The stadium debate is finally over.
Sydney’s ANZ Stadium will be home to the NRL grand final over the next 20 years as part of an agreement that will see the Olympic site given the bulk of the state’s $1.6 billion investment in stadia strategy.
NSW Premier Mike Baird announced on Wednesday that Parramatta Stadium will go ahead with its knockdown and rebuild at the end of the year, while the leftover money will be spent on refurbishing Allianz Stadium.
It is a stunning backflip from Baird, who earlier this week said the government’s preference would be for a new stadium to be built on the current site at Moore Park.
Now they won’t be getting a new venue at all.
“We have said from the outset that we wanted to negotiate with clubs, with the codes and with fans. And we’ve listened to that,” Baird said.
“There’s many stakeholders that are involved in this process and listening to them, I strongly believe we’ve come to the consensus decision today, that’s going to be truly fantastic for this city.”
As part of the agreement, the NRL grand final and State of Origin games will be played in Sydney over the next two decades, as well as guaranteed Bledisloe Cup, Socceroos and Matildas showpieces events every year.
The government also committed to $40 million in an “NRL Centres of Excellence” fund for clubs in NSW.
Construction for the new Parramatta Stadium is expected to begin at the end of the year, while the refurbishment of ANZ Stadium will begin within the current term of government.
It is expected to take 3-4 years.
NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg was ecstatic with the outcome, despite the governing body’s initial stance on wanting a new venue at Moore Park.
“I’ve only had my feet under the desk for four weeks and I’ve made two things clear,” he said.
“The first was to make sure that the $1.6 billion was spent and allocated to rectangular sports. That’s a big tick.
“And second of all, I reached out to the Premier some weeks ago and said we’re right behind you. It’s a wonderful outcome for us and a wonderful outcome for the game.”