Rugby League

NSW targeting five new NRL stadiums

The New South Wales government has shown its support for developing up to five new NRL stadiums over the next decade.

As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, the state government has backed the NRL’s boutique stadiums strategy, which involves the construction of multiple 20,000-seat stadiums in Sydney.

The $800 million redevelopment of Sydney Olympic Park’s ANZ Stadium was scrapped due to COVID-19 in late May, and according to the report, Brookvale Oval, Penrith and Kogarah are being targeted for potential rebuilds.

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New South Wales Deputy Premier John Barilaro nominated the success of Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta as an influential factor for this strategy.

“The government has an appetite for the ground renewal program that the NRL has put forward,” Barilaro said.

“I think we’re going back to basics, back to the past where that tribalism is actually what the competition needs in a way. We’re seeing upgrades at Brookvale, you’ve got the Parramatta stadium. If we’ve got an opportunity to do three or four or five more Bankwests, well that’s got to be great for the game long term, great for the community and great for that competition.”

New South Wales Deputy Premier John Barilaro.Source:Getty Images

The 48-year-old confirmed he was “confident” ANZ Stadium would host the 2020 NRL Grand Final.

In response to the report, former Wallaby and respected journalist Peter FitzSimons criticised the NRL’s reliance on the government for planned stadium development.

On Tuesday morning, FitzSimons tweeted: “Great that the NRL wants a whole slew of new stadiums. But any chance they — and not the taxpayer — could PAY for them, THEMSELVES?! Outrageous.”

Australian author and broadcaster Paul Wallbank delivered a similarly scathing assessment: “Good-o. The NSW government wants to extend the Liberal Party’s unsustainable middle class welfare principles to Sydney’s sports stadiums, lumbering councils with facilities they’ll struggle to maintain.”

Former Fox Sports commentator Simon Hill took the opportunity to revisit comments he made about the NRL’s stadium strategy in 2016.

“The bloated NRL has paid-for infrastructure coming out of its ears,” Hill wrote.

“What a pity all that money is being spent, merely on touching up one old venue (Allianz), and making a bigger venue (ANZ) marginally smaller. All the while, one of the most famous old suburban homes of football, St George Stadium, sits and rots.

“It would be the perfect fit for both a new, football-specific stadium, and a training hub for Sydney FC, and national teams. Sadly, as per usual, the NRL made all the noise.”

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