NSW Government to end financial backing for stadia in Sydney’s suburbs
Refering to evidence that suggests NSW has too many stadia, particularly in metropolitan Sydney, and that many stadia in NSW are underutilised with limited community access, the NSW Government has released a new Stadia Strategy that looks set to end financial support for upgrades at many of Sydney's battling suburban grounds.
Released yesterday (26th November) by NSW Minister for Sport and Recreation Graham Annesley, the Strategy says that in future "NSW Government investment (will be) on NSW Government venues, including those that will return to government or have a head lease with the NSW Government."
The Strategy suggests a future focus on seven stadia, comprising three 'Tier 1' venues - Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney Football Stadium/Allianz Stadium and Stadium Australia/ANZ Stadium - and four 'Tier 2' venues – the Sydney Showground Stadium/Skoda Stadium, Hunter Stadium in Newcastle, Wollongong/WIN Stadium and a non-specified stadia in western Sydney.
The Strategy backs Sydney's two sport and entertainment 'hubs', the Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney Football Stadium/Allianz Stadium and Entertainment Quarter precinct in the city's Moore Park and Sydney Olympic Park with the Tier 1, Stadium Australia/ANZ Stadium and Tier 2, the Sydney Showground Stadium/Skoda Stadium.
The Strategy also backs "stadia with substantial capacity ... required to service the major regional centres in Newcastle and Wollongong" and highlights that both stadia "have also received significant investment over the last five years."
In Western Sydney, the strategy references another Tier 2 stadium – presumably not Parramatta Stadium - in Western Sydney, stating "further consideration of the options for this stadium is required and could include redeveloping an existing stadium or developing a new stadium in a strategic location."
Overall, the Strategy states that it "provides for the concentration of national and international games into a smaller number of Tier 1 and Tier 2 stadia (seven rather than 14), leading to higher utilisation rates, increased efficiencies, and more focused investment."
It also higlights:
• A more focussed approach to NSW Government investment to improve facilities, transport access and develop entertainment precincts;
• Increased utilisation which will improve financial and community returns;
• Provision for all NSW sporting organisations;
• Improved venues for players and spectators;
• Better coordination of event days across NSW; and
• Investment targeted to improve the competitiveness of NSW.
It adds "by establishing the NSW Stadia Strategy, the NSW Government will ensure that future capital investment is strategic and delivers the best outcomes for NSW.
"(The) Strategy recognises that given the large number of (existing) Tier 2 stadia, it is challenging to maintain current stadia at the level required to host elite competition."
In practice the strategy is likely to see more Sydney NRL clubs shift their biggest games each season to Moore Park or Sydney Olympic Park with the likes St George Illawarra and Manly being pressured to take their premier matches away from Kogarah and Brookvale.
In respect of Tier 2 venues that fall outside the strategy, the strategy suggests that the NSW Government seeks to "maximise community and multipurpose use", adding that stadia "could be given a new life as elite training facilities and used to host lower drawing professional games, pre-season matches, junior competitions and community events.
"Belmore Sports Ground and Redfern Oval provide case studies of how a venue can be redeveloped to maintain the link between elite sport and community engagement.
The strategy proposes that the NSW Government work with local government and private operators to explore ways to provide increased community access, with options to be considered including:
• Becoming training grounds and administration centres for their 'home' teams;
• Hosting exhibition events;
• Hosting pre-season events;
• Providing playing fields for junior games
• Providing sports facilities for local communities and schools; and
• Replacing turf with all weather synthetic playing surfaces to enable greater usage over an extended period of time.
"The strategy foresees continuing discussion with stadium owners, operators, and sporting organisations, about the future direction of their grounds."
Releasing the strategy, Minister Annesley explained "the NSW Stadia Strategy focuses on major outdoor stadia some of which are owned or leased by the NSW Government while others are owned by local councils and sporting clubs.
"Historically the NSW Government has received ad-hoc and often competing requests for significant support to redevelop existing stadia and develop new venues.
"For the first time in NSW we now have a strategy which will be used to guide future planning, and provide the framework for government policy and investment decisions."
Independent consultants KPMG assisted with the development of the strategy and extensive consultations with stakeholders.
People who use the venues, including sporting clubs and event organisers, venue hirers, local councils, and the entertainment industry were involved in the consultation process.
Minister Annesley added "the role of Government in determining where and when tax payer dollars are invested must be based on a strategic framework which is why the stadia strategy was developed.
"The NSW Government cannot, and would never attempt to dictate to sporting organisations where they should play, but they need to be armed with information about the priorities for Government investment so they can properly plan for the future.
"The Stadia Strategy will assist the NSW Government respond to stakeholder expectations, better address community access to government owned venues and meet key objectives for growing major events and tourism in NSW."
Images: Jubilee Oval, Kogarah (top), Leichhardt Oval (middle) and Brookvale Oval (below).
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