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Sydney stadium redevelopment saga takes a new turn

Sydney stadium redevelopment saga takes a new turn
April 12, 2016

Months of lobbying by sporting codes, teams, venues and Sydney’s well connected for access to $1.6 billion in NSW Government money for the development and redevelopment of the city’s venues has taken a new turn.

NSW Premier Mike Baird appears to be in the process of backing plans for a new 30,000-seat Parramatta Stadium, an upgraded 55,000 seat Allianz Stadium at Moore Park and a 75,000 seat, enclosed-roof ANZ stadium at Sydney Olympic Park.

When construction is completed, believed to be around 2026, the deal would see Sydney offer Sydney two new world-class rectangular stadiums as well as a new Parramatta Stadium.

The deal would also allow Sydney NRL clubs including St George-­Illawarra, Manly, the Wests Tigers, Cronulla and Penrith, to continue playing home games at suburban grounds – moving aw ay from a previously suggest plan for 65 NRL games a season at the new major venues, which would have forced clubs to move home games to larger stadiums.

Instead, the NSW Government’s investment would be covered by a 100-piece content plan supported by the Australian Rugby Union (ARU), Football Federation Australia (FFA) and the NRL.

However, following considerable lobbying to build an all new $800 million stadium at on parkland at Sydney’s Moore Park, in addition to the current Allianz Stadium and Sydney Cricket Ground, the NSW Waratahs, Sydney Roosters and Sydney FC have vowed to fight the new stadium plan.

Claiming to have been “misled” by NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events and Minister for Sport, Stuart Ayres, the three clubs have combined forces to condemn the possibility that they could be forced out of Allianz Stadium while a new stadium is built.

The three clubs claim the plan contradict guarantees given by Minister Ayres and the Sydney Cricket and Sportsground Trust that a new stadium would be built over Kippax Lake, allowing them to remain at Allianz Stadium until the new venue wasl construction was complete.

Waratahs Chairman Roger Davis told Fairfax Media "Stuart Ayres and the Trust gave us those assurances and the quid pro quo was that we would support a new stadium.

"But we've been cheated on and someone has pulled the rug out from that undertaking. It's a horrible position for us because we did believe a new stadium would be beneficial, but not at the price of our clubs.

 “So I promise you we'll fight hard to put an end to a new stadium.

"We're fiercely opposed to the decision the premier has announced. We're talking about 80,000 fans a week turning up to support the three clubs playing and we've just been given the finger. It's pushing us into a situation now where we're having to turn against a new stadium."

A joint statement from the three clubs opposed the redevelopment of the Allianz Stadium, raising concerns for their long-term existence if they are forced away from their current home venue.

The statement read “it was the clear understanding of all three clubs up until today that there would be a new stadium built - without interruption to Allianz Stadium’s operations.

“If the New South Wales Government is unable to achieve this, then our overriding preference is for a major renovation of the existing stadium.

“We strongly oppose a new stadium on the existing site, as a forced relocation out of Allianz Stadium for four seasons will be disastrous for all three clubs, their respective members and fans.

"The damage that would be caused to the three clubs would extend well-beyond the four year construction period, as it would take many years to fully recover and would require major levels of compensation for impacted clubs

"It is well-known in the sports industry that maintaining crowds is a worldwide challenge which would only be exacerbated if an Allianz Stadium shut down for a period of time were to occur.

“Research indicates that when teams are displaced from their established home ground, the impact is negative and of a long-term nature. Some clubs never recover."

The Waratahs recently signed a 16-year deal with the SCG Trust, and admit they would never have agreed to the terms had they been told they would need to relocate for a quarter of the contract duration.

Davis added "no one has ever spoken to us about a plan B. We haven't even thought about where we might go.

"We just signed a 16-year contract, and now you're telling me for 25% of that period we don't know where we're going to play. It'll cost the government a lot in compensation. But how do you compensate for the end of a club or the destruction of a club?

"We wouldn't have signed up for 16 years if we knew we would only be there for 12. We were assured by everyone that the existing stadium would continue, and we would have lived with the revamp while we were playing, but not a total pull down that casts us into the wilderness."

The three clubs issued a joint statement on Monday night.

"The damage that would be caused to the three clubs would extend well-beyond the four year construction period, as it would take many years to fully recover and would require major levels of compensation for impacted clubs

"It is well-known in the sports industry that maintaining crowds is a worldwide challenge which would only be exacerbated if an Allianz Stadium shut down for a period of time were to occur. Research indicates that when teams are displaced from their established home ground, the impact is negative and of a long-term nature. Some clubs never recover."

If forced to relocate during the redevelopment of the Allianz Stadium, the Waratahs, Roosters and Sydney FC would potentially have to choose to play games at the SCG, the ANZ Stadium or suburban grounds.

During the redevelopment of Parramatta Stadium, the Western Sydney Wanderers have already agreed to play home games ANZ Stadium and Spotless Stadium at Sydney Olympic Park.

ARU Chief Executive Bill Pulver and FFA Chief Executive David Gallop have publicly declared their support for the plan.

Plans to develop an all new stadium at on parkland at Sydney’s Moore Park, have previously been described as "fundamentally inappropriate" by Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust Chairman Tony Ryan.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore has also condemned the proposal as "another greedy land grab" by the SCG Trust.

The Allianz Stadium currently has a capacity of 45,000. Average crowds at the venue across the 2015 Super Rugby and NRL seasons, 2015/16 A-League season and two Asian Champions League fixtures was only 17,736 - 40% of capacity.

Images: Artist's impression of a previous plan to redevelelop Allianz Stadium (top), Moore Park (middle) and the SCG Trust's plans for a new hub between the Allianz Stadium and the SGC (below).

31st March 2016 - WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS TO MAKE THREE SEASON MOVE TO SYDNEY OLYMPIC PARK

8th February 2016 - ANZ STADIUM OPERATOR TO MANAGE NEW PERTH STADIUM

8th January 2016 - NSW GOVERNMENT STADIUM PLANS TO BENEFIT FROM FURTHER FINANCIAL BOOST

4th September 2015 - NSW GOVERNMENT COMMITS MORE THAN $1 BILLION TO NEW SYDNEY SPORT VENUES

21st August 2015 - STUDY RECOMMENDS $1.85 BILLION SPENDING ON SYDNEY STADIUMS

24th June 2015 - ALLIANZ STADIUM MASTER PLAN WORKS TO BENEFIT FROM NSW BUDGET ALLOCATION


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