Rabbitohs and Bulldogs considering ANZ Stadium future
With NRL crowds set to return and the redevelopment of ANZ Stadium dumped, South Sydney and Canterbury are weighing up their future long-term home grounds.
The Bulldogs have called the Homebush venue home since its opening in 1999, while the Rabbitohs have played there since moving from the Sydney Football Stadium in 2006. Both clubs were due to continue playing there until its closure mid-this year, before playing most of their games at Bankwest Stadium.
The stadium was chosen to host any games in the NRL’s restart post-pandemic, but may become an option once crowds are permitted to attend sport in New South Wales.
The major redevelopment of ANZ Stadium recently fell victim to Covid-19, with the venue set to remain as is for the foreseeable future and understandably frustrating the two NRL clubs. Construction of the new Sydney Football Stadium continues at Moore Park.
The NSW Government is expected to announce that crowds of up to 10,000 people will be allowed into ANZ Stadium and the SCG as of July 1. That will give those stadiums an advantage as they’ll be able to accommodate an additional 2,500 fans than the next biggest venue in Sydney.
While short-term ANZ Stadium may be an attractive proposition, long-term is a different story. The 83,500-capacity venue has struggled to attract big crowds and is soulless for fans at the venue and watching on TV with countless empty seats. The redevelopment was to convert it into a true rectangular stadium, reducing the capacity to 70,000.
It’s believed some preparations had already begun for the abandoned redevelopment, meaning there will be a race against time to get it ready to host the NRL clash between the Bulldogs and Rabbitohs on July 5.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs have sent an email to its membership base giving them the opportunity to decide where the club should base itself moving forward – ANZ Stadium, Bankwest Stadium or the newly built Sydney Football Stadium.
Both the Bulldogs and Rabbitohs are locked into long-term contracts at ANZ Stadium, but that was signed believing the redevelopment would proceed.