Parramatta Stadium will receive $20 million in funding for upgrades to the training, corporate and media facilities while the capacity of the ground will be increased by 3,000 to an overall total of 24,000.
In the past I have been critical of the way that certain stadiums have received funding that did little more that give out dates stadium a new coat of paint. Parramatta Stadium however is in a key location and I believe that a real opportunity has been missed by not going all the way and funding an upgrade that would have seen the stadium turn into a key venue for a number of sports in Sydney.
The current home of the Parramatta Eels and Western Sydney Wanderers, the stadium has hampered both clubs in terms of limiting their capacity to sell out games. With both clubs looking to boost their membership bases to well over the proposed 24,000 capacity of the upgraded stadium, its not hard to see both clubs looking at moving to ANZ Stadium in the not to distant future.
There is no doubt that Western Sydney needs a mid sized stadium for Rugby League and Soccer. ANZ Stadium is fantastic for big crowds but anything less than 40,000 and the atmosphere for games is heavily effected.
If Parramatta Stadium had its capacity increased to 30-35,000 it would have been a whole different story. I don’t think there is any question that both the Eels and Wanderers would have committed long term to playing at the ground. I’d also suggest that the likes of the Wests Tigers and Canterbury Bulldogs would have been open to playing certain games there.
Instead what we have ended up with is an upgrade that no one seems happy about. The off field facilities are not getting the upgrades they require while a capacity boost of just 3,000 is nothing short of pathetic.
Of course this all occurred on the same day that upgrades were announced for ANZ Stadium at Homebush. The $250 million upgrades would see a roof added to the stadium as well as entertaining areas in the Olympic precinct. There would also be a change to the seating in the stadium to better cater for Rugby League and soccer supports. This would see the stadium capacity reduced to 80,000, but there is a catch to all of these upgrades…
No one is willing to pay for them!
This all means that Western Sydney is still left with its patchwork quilt of sports stadium to make do with.
The ridiculous thing about all of this is that the Sydney Showground was upgraded at a cost of $65 million to accommodate tiny crowds the the western Sydney AFL side that absolutely no one cares about.
Rugby League and Soccer, as the two biggest sports in Sydney, need to sit down and come to some common ground on what they want from sporting facilities at all levels across Sydney. They need to make a push for better facilities together, because both sports have the same basic needs.
The sooner this happens, the sooner Sydney will get the sports stadiums it deserves.