Penrith the first NRL stadium set for major rebuild
The Penrith Panthers could have a brand new boutique stadium as early as 2025, after reports that Bluebet Stadium is expected to be knocked down and receive a $200 million rebuild.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported the ground only needs the NSW government’s approval to be the first Sydney venue rebuilt using the money originally set aside for rebuilding Stadium Australia.
If approved, construction could begin in December 2022, which would allow it to open in time for the 2025 season.
Stadium Australia was expected to receive an $810 million redevelopment to convert it into a 70,000-seat rectangular ground in 2020 before COVID-19 forced the plans to be scrapped, and the NRL has since changed tack and lobbied for that money to go toward refurbishing suburban venues.
Currently, NRL matches at the 22,500-capacity Bluebet Stadium are regularly selling out off the back of the Panthers’ ongoing success at home, with crowds currently capped at around 16,000 due to COVID concerns.
The proposed new stadium would be able to seat between 25,000 and 30,000 fans, and the cost could blow out to as much as $300 million.
Aside from hosting Panthers home games, a new stadium could also host concerts and other events to service the area, which is expected to house an extra 60,000 residents in the next ten years and have a nearby international airport built in the next six.
It’s one of four suburban venues in the pipeline for an upgrade to become a ‘miniature version’ of Parramatta’s Bankwest Stadium.
The Manly Sea Eagles’ home at 4 Pines Park is already undergoing a redevelopment of its northern hill, where a 3,000-capacity grandstand and a Centre of Excellence are expected to be completed next year. The rest of the ground is also expected to eventually be upgraded to convert it to a boutique all-seater stadium.
Kogarah Oval has also been earmarked for an upgrade, while a new stadium in Liverpool has been proposed to cater for the Canterbury Bulldogs and Wests Tigers.
However, a site owned by the Bulldogs near the Liverpool CBD area is reportedly unsuitable for a stadium with a capacity greater than 15,000.