Sydney stadiums rebuild starts next year

6 November 2017

Sydney’s two biggest sporting stadiums will be knocked down and rebuilt within the next four years as part of Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s $1.8 billion plan to transform the city’s sporting land­scape and end the two-year-long stadium wars.

Sydney’s Allianz Stadium will be demolished next year and ­rebuilt by 2019 and ANZ Stadium knocked down in 2019 and reconfigured by 2021, under an ambitious timeline being pushed by Sports Minister Stuart Ayres that is said to have the backing of Ms Berejiklian.

Under the plan, Allianz, at inner-city Moore Park, would have a capacity of 45,000, and ANZ, at Olympic Park, a capacity of 75,000 — down from 85,000 — but it would be redesigned as a rectangular stadium.

The plan is aimed at raising Sydney’s stadiums to the quality of those recently built in Adelaide and Perth, and the facilities at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the city’s Docklands.

But the plan, which could be put to cabinet as early as this week, has caused inter­nal ­consternation, with Treasurer ­Dom­inic Perrottet and Deputy Prem­ier John Barilaro arguing as to why the government should be spending more than $2bn on stadiums when it, like other governments, is under pressure to act on the cost of living.

The government has already spent $300 million building a new Parramatta Stadium in the city’s west.

Infrastructure Minister Andrew Constance is also said to favour rebuilding ANZ only.

The plan is understood to ­involve some State of Origin matches heading interstate while construction takes place. But Sydney would retain hosting rights for the NRL grand final, with Allianz to fill the gap while ANZ is being rebuilt.

The stadiums war has split the football codes with clubs using Allianz, including the popular Sydney FC, and the Australian Rugby Union, pushing hard for an Allianz rebuild and the NRL pushing for ANZ to be built first.

The NRL has set up meetings with ministers in a frantic last-minute bid to get the ANZ proposal up first.

Such has been the force of the NRL campaign that the code’s chief executive, Todd Greenberg, has met ministers not involved in the proposals to urge them to push in cabinet for an ANZ rebuild first.

“I am writing in relation to the NSW Government’s commitment to upgrade Sydney’s stadiums network,” Mr Greenberg has written to ministers.

“Whilst I know this issue does not fall within your portfolio ­responsibilities, I understand the important matter will be discussed in the coming month at ­cabinet.”

The letter points out the ­announcement in April last year by former premier Mike Baird that was “publicly supported by the NRL” involved a permanent rectangular configuration of ANZ at more than 70,000 seats with construction to start before March 2019 and “the refurbishment of the existing Allianz Stadium — with works to commence after the redevelopment of ANZ Stadium is completed, and in any event not before March 2019”.

But Mr Ayres, who is close to several ­people on the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust that runs Allianz Stadium, is understood to have won the Premier’s support on the need to get moving on ­Allianz.

Mr Ayres had always favoured an Allianz rebuild first but was slammed last year after he tried to slide past Mr Baird a plan not to build on the Allianz site, but on a nearby site at Moore Park, a move that would have been controversial, particularly in light of flak the Baird government received for ripping out century-old trees for its CBD light rail project.