Coronavirus could force the NRL Grand Final to Bankwest Stadium
A delayed end to the 2020 NRL season could see the Grand Final moved from the SCG due to cricket commitments, while the ANZ Stadium redevelopment could be postponed.
This year’s NRL Grand Final was to be the first played away from ANZ Stadium since its opening in 1999, due to the planned major redevelopment of the Olympic stadium, with the Sydney Cricket Ground set to host the marquee fixture on October 4.
With the SCG set to be handed over to the ICC on October 10 for the staging of the 2020 T20 World Cup, any later date would force the game elsewhere. A Memorandum of Understanding is in place with the NSW Government around the $1.2 billion stadiums deal, meaning it’s unlikely to be played outside of the state (until 2046) – such as Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.
The Sydney Football Stadium next door was demolished last year, and construction of the new stadium is yet to commence. The next obvious choice is Parramatta’s Bankwest Stadium, but that’ll mean a further 18,000 fans will be unable to attend, in addition to the 35,500 who already cannot attend due to relocating from ANZ’s 83,500 capacity to the SCG’s 48,000. Bankwest Stadium’s capacity is 30,000.
ANZ Stadium is due to be decommissioned after an NRL match between the Bulldogs and Rabbitohs on June 27. The ground is due to host State of Origin II six days earlier, although there are talks about moving the Origin series to after the Grand Final.
There is also speculation the redevelopment would be scrapped entirely, although that remains a remote possibility.
There is now growing pressure that the refurbishment’s commencement date could be delayed until November to host this year’s NRL Grand Final, however a spokesman for Acting NSW Sports Minister Geoff Lee said there had been no discussions yet about delaying the construction.
A holdup of the ANZ Stadium redevelopment could impact on Australia’s 2023 bid for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
A revamped ANZ Stadium was to re-open in 2023 but that could now be delayed if demolition was pushed back five months.
The final T20 World Cup game at the SCG would be a semi-final on November 11.
It’s a similar situation with the AFL, with a significant delay of the revised 17-round season possibly ruling out the MCG for its Grand Final, with it also due to be handed over to the ICC on October 10. The 56,000-capacity Marvel Stadium could be in line to host the match should that situation arise.
Round two of the NRL gets underway Thursday evening at ANZ Stadium and all matches for the foreseeable future will be played behind closed doors due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
With fans unable to attend matches for the foreseeable future, get Kayo Sports to stream every game LIVE and watch replays on-demand. Selected matches will also feature the ‘NRL Stand Cam’ which gives viewers the eagle-eye perspective of every Fox League match – Catch every moment as if you were in the grandstand watching live. Sign-up today to get a 14-day free trial >
View a full wrap of the latest coronavirus updates and a summary of its impact on each sport/competition, plus a list of postponed/cancelled matches.