Bondi View

Libs Serve Bread and Circuses

The rebuilding of Allianz stadium in Sydney will be completed by 2022 Photo: Wikimedia Commons

By Lili Sekkai

One of the most contentious issues currently facing the NSW Government concerns the planned rebuild of Moore Park’s Allianz Stadium, also known as the Sydney Football Stadium (SFS).

While there is still an option to focus on the Olympic Park ANZ stadium, recent press reports have shown that the redevelopment is planned for Allianz Stadium only.

Built in 1988, the Stadium is Sydney’s premier rectangular field venue for rugby league, rugby union and soccer, hosting various historical sport events including many for the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 as well as concerts and other events.

In order to create a venue to equal those in Melbourne, Brisbane or Adelaide, the NSW Liberal National Government announced plans in November 2017 for the stadium to be knocked down and rebuilt.

The intended decommission is to start in late 2018 and the rebuild to be complete by 2022.

According to Sydney Cricket Ground Trust website ”there is going to be a redevelopment for the SFS into a modern, world class venue, to ensure Sydney has a sporting and entertainment precinct of international standard and that NSW remains the number one choice for sporting and entertainment events in Australia. To address these issues, the NSW Government will rebuild the venue into a 40,000 to 45,000 seat rectangular stadium with substantially improved sightlines, a roof that covers all patrons, with vastly improved amenities, food and beverage options and accessibility.”

The development will use public money, and although it is an economic investment improving Sydney’s tourist and entertainment sectors, it also raises concerns, as some voters don’t support spending their money on facilities for elite sports.

“Our stadia plan is about making Sydney and NSW the number one destination for sport and major events. To do that you have to have the best facilities,” Stuart Ayers, Minister for Sport said.

“Sydney Football Stadium is the oldest tier one stadium in Australia and no longer meets modern safety, security and compliance standards.

“The Business Case clearly states that refurbishing the stadium would require a $715 million investment for an outcome, but spending an extra $15 million dollars to rebuild the stadium at a cost of $730 million addresses safety issues in the long term and represents the best value for money for taxpayers and fans.”

There is currently a petition signed by over 200,000 people in circulation asking the government to reconsider the plan.

NSW Opposition Leader, Luke Foley, has been campaigning with the slogan “Schools and Hospitals before Stadiums”.

He says the demolition of the Sydney Football Stadium was not put to the public at the last election and should be tested by the vote in March.

“It is scandalous to tear down the existing stadium before people vote in the state election in March on whether they want to see $2.2 billion of public money spent on the Liberals and Nationals’ Sydney stadiums splurge… People have a right to pass judgement at the ballot box on a policy that is so out of whack with the community’s expectations,” Mr Foley said.

“The real story is hidden from the public as the players haggle behind closed doors,” Maire Sheehan of the Better Planning Network said.

“We do know that throwing heaps of public money at dubious investments while schools and local sports groups struggle is a disgrace.”

The fast tracking of the proposed timeline for the demolition suggests that the Government is doing everything it can to ensure that a knock down and rebuild can’t be prevented.

“The government says spending hundreds of millions (before the inevitable budget blowouts) is a good investment but for who?” Ms Sheehan said.

“It’s all going to be demolished, all the money is provided but it’s on Crown land, so why is a private organization meant to get all this money from government?… and what about all the local sport clubs who won’t get anything while all the money is spend on the stadium?”

“There is no need to rebuild the stadium… there is a need to renovate it, but not to rebuild,“ Michael Waterhouse, Saving Moore Park (SMP) said.

Two main concerns according to SMP are the visual impact as well as the ensuing parking problems.

“The new stadium will have a much higher profile and could overshadow the area… Moore Park will be dominated by an even bigger stadium,” Mr Waterhouse said.

“There will be more football games than there currently are, increasing the amount of attendees… and increasing the amount of car parking which hasn’t been considered.”

Saving Moore Park is also concerned about how the Sydney Roosters NRL team and other teams will fit into the new stadium.

An extra building is currently planned for the Members’ car park area which will mean less parking for the general public.

Until the Environmental Impact Statement is released in a few weeks the Government does not intend to release any further information on the Moore Park demolition and construction.