Leichhardt Oval Master Plan unveiled to upgrade iconic venue
Sydney’s Inner West Council has unveiled a $100 million Master Plan to restore Leichhardt Oval to its former glory.
Features of the upgrade to the iconic suburban ground include a new northern grandstand and major upgrades to the existing western grandstand, however the project is reliant on funding from the state and federal governments.
At a meeting on October 10, the Council adopted the Draft Leichhardt Oval Masterplan and will write to the relevant State and Federal Government Ministers seeking a joint funding partnership between all three levels of Government.
The masterplan, developed by architectural firm COX, splits the upgrade of the existing Western Grandstand into moderate and major options, dependant on the level of funding available for the project.
The moderate option includes upgrade to corporate and media facilities on the upper level, new mezzanine floors at the rear with multi-purpose rooms, and new and upgraded players and public facilities on the ground level. This option would reduce the total project cost to around $45 million.
The major option would see the roof of the grandstand lifted to allow for a new media level, new corporate facilities on the upper level, new public amenities and new and upgraded player and public facilities on the ground level, and new seating between the lower and upper level.
Also part of the upgrade is a new 1,580-seat roofed grandstand at the northern end of the ground, while the lower seating bowl around the field would be upgraded to replace existing bench seating and aged seats, with additional rows to the east and west of the field to increasing seating to approximately 4,835.
The Wests Tigers recently announced the club will play five of its 12 NRL home games at Leichhardt Oval in 2024, with five to also played at its other spiritual home – Campbelltown Sports Stadium. The club had previously played some home games at Parramatta’s CommBank Stadium.
Wests Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe said as wondrous as Leichhardt Oval is, the ‘eighth wonder' is in desperate need of a makeover. So too are improvements needed at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
Pascoe said government funding is crucial if Wests Tigers is to commit long-term to home games at its two traditional venues.
“As a club we are wanting and willing to commit to this strategy, but these grounds must be fit for purpose. It’s as simple as that,” said Pascoe.
“We need facilities to be improved to adequately cater for both NRL and NRLW games.
“It’s bordering on negligent to think that we don’t have female change rooms at these grounds. This is just unacceptable.
“Government must understand that without the appropriate level of funding, these two great home grounds will become obsolete. That is something none of us want.”
The long-term home of the Wests Tigers appears to be up in the air however, with the Sydney Morning Herald reporting earlier this month that the club, in partnership with Liverpool Council, have approached the NSW government with a proposal to build a 20,000-seat stadium in the heart of Liverpool CBD, with a view to making it the club’s permanent home.
Leichhardt Oval is serving as Sydney FC’s primary home ground for A-League Women’s matches for the 2023/24 season and will host two double-headers as part of the recently announced Unite Round where all games will be played in Sydney across one weekend.
The council completed an upgrade of the amenities and viewing platform at the northern end earlier this year after a railing collapsed during a match last year, sending spectators crashing to the ground.
At the meeting on October 10, the Inner West Council also resolved to incorporate provision for public access to the Wayne Pearce Hill for recreation use based on the same principles as the existing use of Henson Park. This is to commence with a trial of weekday access, including evenings, to be undertaken from December 2023 to February 2024.