Sharks plan to co-own revamped Shark Park with NRL
The Cronulla Sharks have offered co-ownership of its home ground, Shark Park, to the NRL to ensure it remains in the Shire and gets a brand-new stadium.
The NRL announced in August it’s pushing to build up to five new boutique stadiums in Sydney, upgrading existing suburban venues, after the NSW Government pulled the pin on the major redevelopment of ANZ Stadium.
Cronulla’s Shark Park wasn’t one of the venues mentioned however, with Jubilee Stadium earmarked for the first project, followed by a new stadium at Liverpool (Bulldogs & Tigers), then Brookvale Oval and Panthers Stadium.
Under the plan, the Cronulla Sharks would relocate full-time to Jubilee Stadium to share that new venue with the St George Illawarra Dragons. The NRL club is currently based at the ground for a two-year period while the Shark Park precinct is closed due to a major development.
However, Sharks chief executive Dino Mezzatesta has said the NRL club will never leave Shark Park, meaning an upgraded Jubilee Stadium would only be used for about six NRL games per year, given the Dragons also play home games at Wollongong’s WIN Stadium.
“That won’t be happening. I’ve spoken to the NRL about our plans and they have no authority over where our games are played. They can’t tell us to move.” Mezzatesta said.
“We have an obligation to our members and fans to keep games at Shark Park.”
Under the Sharks proposal, the NRL club would provide the land, meaning it could become the first major asset for the cash-strapped league. The NRL would then lobby the government for funding to build a new 20,000-seat stadium.
A new boutique stadium in the Sutherland Shire would sit alongside the $400 million redevelopment that includes a hotel and an 18,000 sqm precinct for shopping and dining. Under the current works, the existing stadium remains untouched and is in need of an upgrade in the near future.
Cronulla has the third-biggest junior rugby league nursery behind only the Penrith Panthers and the Parramatta Eels with more than 500 junior participants. A southern Sydney rugby league academy would be built as part of any future development.
The proposed future use of new stadiums could be a factor in where public funds are spent, with sports other than Rugby League sure to crying out for funding.
Shark Park was proposed to become home of an A-League expansion side, however they lost out to Macarthur FC, who’ll play home games at Campbelltown Stadium, while Jubilee Stadium currently hosts a number of football matches, but that will decline when Sydney FC move into the new Sydney Football Stadium in 2022.