St George Stadium may become home of football

Austadiums   |  Wednesday 24th June 2020

It once hosted the NSL Grand Final in front of more than 11,000 fans, now St George Stadium may be returned to its former glory, as the home of football.

The stadium, located just west of Sydney Airport at Barton Park, has seen better days, with its grandstand derelict and off-limits since 2008. It’s believed to be Football Federation Australia’s preferred located for an elite training and administration facility, and it’s not the first time an upgrade has been proposed for the site.

With Australia widely considered favourites to win hosting rights to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup (with New Zealand), the new facility would be established in time for the tournament and serve as a lasting legacy.

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Home of the St George Football Club since its opening in 1978, it was known as Sydney’s premier boutique football venue until the upgrade of Marconi Stadium, and hosted many National Soccer League matches, including Grand Finals. St George were relegated to the state league in 1991, while Sydney Olympic continued to host national league matches there for another couple of seasons.

Under the plan, the site would serve as the long-term home of the Socceroos, Matildas and junior national teams, as well as coaching and referee training centres.

The governing body on Tuesday lodged a formal inquiry with the venue's owners, Bayside Council, about using the Barton Park precinct.

Bayside Council released a draft masterplan for the redevelopment of the site, which includes the provision for an elite football field and renovation of the existing stadium. Senior FFA sources suggested it is the preferred site for the proposed centre but not the only option available to the organisation.

The venue is regarded as an ideal location due to its historical and symbolic significance and proximity to the city and airport in the game's most popular state.

With the NSW Government recently abandoning its $810 million plans to redevelop ANZ Stadium, it is hoped some funds will be diverted to instead build grassroots football facilities, including its permanent home.

This isn’t the first time a redevelopment of St George Stadium has been proposed. FFA also had preliminary discussions back in 2005 to revisit plans to develop it into a 15,000-seat stadium to serve as the home of Sydney FC and the national sides. There have also been plans for a 20,000-capacity stadium to serve as the home of the St George Illawarra Dragons before the decision was made to upgrade Kogarah, and more recently, St George Football Club have campaigned to reinvigorate the run-down venue.

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