Mike Baird’s Team ‘Playing Blind’ On $300m Stadium
20 October 2016
Planning documents show the Baird government can identify only one of the three NRL teams it has claimed would use a new stadium built at Parramatta in Sydney’s west, as part of its $1.6 billion sporting facilities strategy.
An environmental impact statement for the new Parramatta Stadium, which will increase its capacity from 20,000 seats to 30,000 seats, states it will be used by three NRL teams as their home ground, plus the Western Sydney Wanderers football team.
The EIS, in an apparent attempt to justify the building of the $300 million stadium, says the ground will be used on 43-44 days a year, including by the Parramatta Eels, as well as “NRL team 2” and “NRL team 3” with both apparently playing 10 games a year. The EIS even predicts a 10 per cent uplift in attendance for the unnamed teams, which are said to have existing average attendances of 15,900 and 11,800.
Sports Minister Stuart Ayres was unable to identify the teams. “The NRL and individual clubs decide where games are played, not the NSW government. The NSW government will make the stadium available to every club,” he said.
Mr Ayres said that the EIS provided an indication of future events, but the exact schedule of future events would be determined in consultation with sporting associations and event organisers.
Labor sports spokeswoman Lynda Voltz called on Mike Baird to sack Mr Ayres, saying the government had presented a very poor business case for events to be held at Parramatta Stadium.
“The claim by his Sports Minister that three NRL teams will play from this stadium is fanciful and consistent with his chaotic handling of the stadium strategy. It is time Mike Baird gave his Sports Minister the boot,” she said.
Wests Tigers and Penrith Panthers have average attendances of 15,400 and 13,500. The local council owns Penrith stadium and Wests Tigers are less than half way through a 10-year contract with ANZ Stadium, with commitments to also play at both Campbelltown and Leichhardt ovals.
Both clubs said they knew nothing about a possible move to Parramatta. Other Sydney-based NRL teams are also long-term tenants at ANZ Stadium, including South Sydney Rabbitohs, Canterbury Bulldogs and St George Illawara Dragons, who also play four games a year each at Kogarah and Wollongong. Although the government has now bought ANZ Stadium back into public ownership, it baulked at a proposal to impose a “supertrust” over the management of ANZ, the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust and Parramatta Stadium to co-ordinate the allocation of games and events.
A previous plan to rebuild Allianz Stadium in Sydney’s east into a 55,000-seat stadium stumbled when the government could not convince NRL teams to play 65 games there or at ANZ.
Source : theaustralian.com.au