The NRL has confirmed the Grand Final will continue to be played in Sydney during the ANZ Stadium redevelopment, with the SCG to host the showpiece match for the next two years.
The league had already announced back in June that the 2020 NRL Grand Final will be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground, and yesterday confirmed it’ll also host the event in 2021, despite conceding the venue “is not a great experience”.
The 2022 NRL Grand Final will be played at the rebuilt Allianz Stadium before it returns to the redeveloped ANZ Stadium at Homebush in 2023.
There had been talk of moving the Grand Final elsewhere, with Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium one likely venue, however it’ll remain in Sydney until at least 2046 after the NRL secured a deal with the NSW Government worth more than $15 million.
The $810 major redevelopment of ANZ Stadium will see the majority of its seating bowl rebuilt, converting it into a world-class 70,000-seat rectangular stadium.
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Delays in delivering Sydney’s new stadium network had raised the possibility of the Grand Final leaving Sydney for the first time. However, NRL CEO Todd Greenberg and Premier Gladys Berejiklian finalised the deal in recent days.
The deal means the NRL will receive compensation from the government for the loss in revenue from staging the event at the SCG for a second consecutive year. The SCG’s capacity is about 35,000 less than ANZ Stadium.
The game will remain in Sydney for the next 27 years given the 25-year memorandum of understanding initially struck between the parties won’t begin until Sydney’s $2 billion stadium project is complete.
Greenberg conceded the game-day experience at the SCG was inferior to purpose-built rectangular stadiums available in other states.
"And I understand that," he said. "Part of me agrees with that, that it's not the greatest experience. But it's short-term decision-making now for a much longer-term future. Effectively it's long-term thinking for our fans. What that means is we'll have some short-term pain to get through during the next few years, but what the ultimate prize is $2 billion of infrastructure development, three brand-new stadiums in Sydney."