As many of you know I have complained a number of times about the money wasted in Sydney on stadium developments at venues that are no where near the standards required for top level sport these days.
I have talked about the need for some sort of stadium rationalization for years now.
Today came news that the NSW Government is likely to refuse to spend any more tax payers money on putting new coats of paint on some of the relics NRL clubs play out of only a few times every year. This is a good thing.
On the weekend there was an article in the Sydney Morning Herald by Richard Hinds titled Wanted: Stadiums Fit For Both Fans And Sponsors in which Hinds echo’d some of my opinions in that a top class Rugby League stadium in the goegraphic center of Sydney would be a true jewel in the crown of the game in Sydney.
He proposed tearing down Parramatta Stadium and rebuilding it along the lines of Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, which is the best stadium I have ever watched the game at.
The more I’ve thought about this, the more it makes sense…
Parramatta Stadium is fairly easy to get to by Sydney standards, so the transport links are there. You’d hope that there would be a big commitment to “Events” planning that would make transport to the stadium even easier.
If you put a clone of Suncorp Stadium on the site Parramatta Stadium sits right now, I think you would have to develop the area around the stadium and put as much parking there as possible. That may mean the training field and Cricket field next door is removed, but surely the council has other sites they can used instead.
Between Parramatta Mall and a completely redeveloped area around the stadium, you could build a really good pregame atmosphere before the game around the whole stadium, which is something we don’t do enough of here in Australia.
Imagine being able to head to the stadium early to have a drink and a feed alongside the river in places that are open only for game days? Open areas where fans can mingle ahead of the game, in sight of the stadium, no rush to get in there.
One of the things I like about Suncorp Stadium is that it hasn’t got a fence around it. The stadium itself is where the gates are. The open plan around the stadium is great. You can head there early, have a few beers in the pubs before the game, and its not some huge rush to get to the stadium. We need to focus on these sort of things to get the best game day experience possible.
If you put all of this together, it would be an incredible addition to the Sydney sports scene.
You could have the Parramatta Eels and Canterbury Bulldogs playing out of this stadium full time, not to mention the Western Sydney A League team over summer. I also have no doubt the Wests Tigers and possibly even St George/Illawarra Dragons would play games there too.
This stadium would be perfect for Rugby League internationals although I think State Of Origin would remain at ANZ Stadium.
In Sydney, we really lack foresight and planning when it comes to stadiums. With a bit of effort, commitment and vision, Sydney could have a major Rugby League stadium that even the Queenslanders would envy!
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com