NSW abandons ANZ Stadium redevelopment
The long-awaited $810-million major redevelopment of Sydney’s ANZ Stadium has been sensationally dumped by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
The government said the stadium refurbishment remained a sensible project that was supported by voters at the election, but no longer made sense given the health and economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
The stadium was initially meant to host its final event on June 27 – an NRL game between the Bulldogs and Rabbitohs – before covid-19 hit. Works were then set to commence shortly after, leaving Australia’s biggest city without a major rectangular stadium for more than two years.
The NSW state government was close to awarding the contract for the project, with a shortlist of Multiplex, Watpac and Laing O'Rourke all vying for the job, while renowned stadium architect Populous had already been appointed as the lead designer.
It means Sydney will be left without world-class rectangular stadium capable of hosting major events.
The rebuild of the Sydney Football Stadium commenced in April, and while there have already been delays, the new 40,000-capacity stadium is expected to open in October 2023.
Following the Sydney Olympics in 2000, the Homebush stadium was remodelled from a 110,000-capacity athletics venue into an 80,000-capacity multi-purpose stadium capable of hosting rectangular and oval sports.
Announced in November 2017, original plans were to bulldoze ANZ Stadium and replace it with a brand new venue. The government then backtracked on those plans and instead decided to undertake a major redevelopment – essentially keeping the external shell but demolishing the entire seating bowl to construct a world-class 70,000-capacity rectangular stadium.
The NSW Government is redeveloping Stadium Australia as part of the biggest investment in the state’s Major Stadia Network since the Sydney 2000 Olympics. The investment will deliver significant improvements to the fan experience whilst helping to attract and play host to the best events in the world. – from September's project update.
Now the works have been shelved altogether, at least for the time being. It does mean Sydney will continue to have a stadium capable of accommodating 83,000 fans, however it still isn’t perfect for rectangular or oval sports. It’ll remain soulless for most regular-season NRL games with small crowds but could once again host AFL or cricket if they chose to do so.
It’ll now almost-definitely host the 2020 NRL Grand Final (originally scheduled for the Sydney Cricket Ground) and State of Origin. If crowds can attend is a different discussion given the ongoing coronavirus situation.
The funds earmarked for the major redevelopment will be funnelled into a new $3 billion Infrastructure and Job Acceleration Fund for "shovel-ready" projects to reboot the state's shattered economy.
The big winners from the governments u-turn could be Sydney’s suburban grounds with ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys reportedly pushing for new 18-20,000-seat boutique stadiums at Brookvale, Campbelltown and Kogarah – NRL Grand Final as his powerful bargaining chip. More to come on this.