Inner West Independent

Inner West mayor lashes Perrottet’s ‘bonkers’ neglect of suburban sporting grounds

NRL

Leichhardt Oval plays host to rugby league, rugby union, football and junior sporting events. Photo: Facebook.

By DANIEL LO SURDO

Inner West mayor Darcy Byrne has lashed NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet’s refusal to adequately fund upgrades to suburban grounds across the state, as the state government held crisis talks last week to keep the NRL grand final in Sydney.

NRL Chairman Peter V’landys and Perrottet entered crisis talks after an agreement to keep the NRL grand final in Sydney until 2042 was voided due to a failure to fund upgrades to suburban grounds.

AAP reported on Friday that the pair have now reached an agreement on stadium upgrades that would keep the grand final in Sydney, which will likely be finalised in the coming weeks.

Cr Byrne said that Perrottet had “an abysmal record of failing to support our spiritual [Wests Tigers] homes at Leichhardt and Campbelltown”, calling the lack of funding to suburban grounds and the ensuing risk to a Sydney grand final “bonkers”.

Inner West mayor Darcy Byrne. Photo: Facebook.

A deal to keep the grand final in Sydney until 2042 was reached in 2018 based on an $800 million Stadium Australia rebuild that would convert the venue into a rectangular stadium, which fell through during the pandemic. Instead, the NRL hoped to reallocate funding for suburban grounds.

Speaking to Nine on Friday, V’landys said that “we want people to walk to the games” and for “that tribalism to occur”.

“We want those promises honoured by the NSW government, and if they don’t, we’ll take it elsewhere,” V’landys said.

“We had a deal that they would spend $800 million on stadiums … we wanted it spent on suburban stadiums, we want to build that tribalism in those areas, we want multi-use stadiums where junior sport could be held, where theatre could be held and it’s a community asset, and the government agrees with it but they’re just so slow to move.”

New $300 million NRL stadium for Penrith 

In addition to the Wests Tigers, Leichhardt Oval has regularly hosted the NSW Waratahs and A-Leagues matches in recent years, with Henson Park, the longtime home of the Newtown Jets, set to be a prominent AFLW venue for years to come.

Cr Byrne also took aim at the state government’s decision to push forward with developing a new $300 million suburban stadium in Penrith, with construction to begin early next year. Perrottet said that the development was “about bringing suburban venues to the fore and taking major venues across the state”.

City Hub has contacted Inner West Council for comment.

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