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Sydney’s stadium debate over as NSW Government commits $1.6 billion to refurbishments
The NSW Government has declared that it will spend $1.6 billion on upgrading Sydney's major sports stadia rather than developing any all-new venues.
After months of lobbying by venues, stakeholders and sports, and the NSW Government expanding an original $600 million commitment to sporting venues by more than 150%, the money will be spent on reconfiguring ANZ Stadium at Sydney Olympic Park and refurbishing Allianz Stadium in Sydney’s east.
The first part of the scheme will see the rebuild of Parramatta’s Pirtek Stadium, home to the A-League’s Western Sydney Wanderers and the NRL’s Parramatta Eels, at a cost of about $300 million over the next three years.
A $700 million project to turn ANZ Stadium into a permanent rectangular venue will also commence during that period subject to the NSW Government being able to acquire the stadium business.
Allianz Stadium will be refurbished after that, rather than be replaced by a completely new stadium. What remains of the $1.6 billion will presumably fund this project.
Sydney’s newspapers have described the decision not to build a new venue at Moore Park in addition to Allianz Stadium as a “humiliation” for NSW Sport and Recreation Minister Stuart Ayres, who had previously backed the new stadium idea along with a more minor upgrade to be delivered at Olympic Park.
NSW Premier Mike Baird said he "absolutely" still had confidence in NSW Sport and Recreation Minister, but he also announced that he had handed future responsibility for future stadium policy to Infrastructure NSW, an agency not under Minister Ayres' control.
With Premier Baird also having previously indicated a preference would be for a new stadium to be built on the current site at Moore Park, he explained “there are many stakeholders involved and, listening to them, I strongly believe we have come to the consensus position today that is going to be truly fantastic for this city.
"This was never going to be an easy process ... there’s many stakeholders that are involved in this process and listening to them, I strongly believe we’ve come to the consensus decision today, that’s going to be truly fantastic for this city.”
Key to the future of the venues has been long-term content agreements secured with the Australian Rugby Union, Football Federation Australia and the National Rugby League (NRL).
This will see 20 years of NRL grand finals and State of Origin matches; 10 years of rugby’s Bledisloe Cup and an additional test match each year, a guaranteed Lions Tour Test match, along with Rugby Sevens; and a 12 year agreement that will see the hosting of Socceroos and Matildas game every year.
Minister Ayres said that, after lagging behind the other major states in sporting and major events infrastructure, NSW was seizing the opportunity to get in front, stating “it is great news for these codes, as participation and attendance grows in the years to come, but more importantly it is great news for the NSW economy.”
The decisions have been welcomed by leading stakeholders.
ANZ Stadium Managing Director Daryl Kerry stated “by investing in the future of a network of stadiums in Sydney, the (NS) Government has ensured NSW will continue to attract world-class events, while also providing the best possible sport and entertainment facilities for fans of the major football codes.
“The planned investment in ANZ Stadium - Sydney’s Olympic stadium - will unlock the potential for major development throughout Greater Western Sydney, in particular Sydney Olympic Park and the Olympic Corridor through to Parramatta, earmarked as Sydney’s second CBD.”
Kerry said the plan to transform ANZ Stadium would give Sydney one of the great rectangular stadiums of the world and, most importantly, was fantastic news for the fans who turn out week in week out to watch their favourite sporting teams in action and at major sport and entertainment events.
He added “once the ANZ Stadium redevelopment is complete, the fan experience will go to a completely new level with the rectangular redesign bringing fans dramatically closer to the level on all six levels of the Stadium.
“Sydney will boast the best rectangular stadium in the Southern Hemisphere, which will be complemented by other major infrastructure projects including the WestConnex motorway project and the Western Sydney Light Rail network, which in turn will transform the transport experience to Sydney Olympic Park and the Stadium.”
NRL Chief Executive Todd Greenberg said fans will secure the best stadium facilities in the game’s history, commenting “this is a big moment for our sport, and a significant moment in time."
ARU Chief Executive Bill Pulver admitted that, while his original preference was to build a new stadium at Moore Park, he felt the new stadia network could help boost Australia’s chances to host a second Rugby World Cup, though that wouldn’t likely come to fruition until the 2031 tournament.
Pulver stated "(this) is a very bold and imaginative plan.
“There are bowl challenges at ANZ because you are so far from the ground but in the new stadium, even the seats farthest away will be 50 metres closer to the game.
“If you’ve ever had the pleasure of going to Millennium Stadium (in Cardiff, Wales), when the roof is on the atmospherics are mind blowing.”
However, Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust Chairman Tony Shepherd was clearly disappointed at the decision advising that “the SCG Trust notes the Premier’s decision regarding the stadia strategy and, as a public body, will provide every assistance in its implementation.”
Click here to view the ANZ Stadium's redevelopment page.
Images: ANZ Stadium's planned redevelopment (top and middle) and officials at the stadium funding announcement (below - from left: Kyle Patterson of the FFA, NSW Minister for Sport and Recreation Stuart Ayres, NSW Premier Mike Baird, Todd Greenberg of the NRL and Bill Pulver of the ARU).
12th April 2016 - SYDNEY STADIUM REDEVELOPMENT SAGA TAKES A NEW TURN
17th February 2016 - PIRTEK STADIUM EXPANSION TO REQUIRE DEMOLITION OF PARRAMATTA SWIMMING CENTRE
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
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