Fairfax media is reporting that the NSW Government has sought assurances that two thirds of Sydney based NRL games will be played at Sydney’s three major stadiums before it will make any firm commitment to refurbish, or upgrade any of the major venues used by the National Rugby League.
Current plans will see Parramatta Stadium demolished and completely rebuilt, while debate still rages about whether the Sydney Football Stadium will get the same treatment, and what upgrades will be made to the Homebush Olympic Stadium.
No further progress will be made on the matter until the NRL commits to playing at least two thirds of its Sydney based matches at one of these three venues.
Will somebody please think of the children!
The NSW Government has been dragging its feet on this issue for far too long. They have sought advice from every single person on planet earth and refused to just come up with a decision.
The new Parramatta Stadium I believe will be fantastic for Rugby League. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a number of clubs committing to playing regular games at the venue when it opens.
Plans for a similar stadium on the site of the current Sydney Football Stadium will have less of an impact, but the NRL would hope to see clubs like the Cronulla Sharks, St George/Illawarra Dragons, and possibly even the Manly Sea Eagles to look at playing some games there in an effort to reach the two thirds quote the NSW Government is aiming for.
Homebush Olympic Stadium will likely be able to hold onto the South Sydney Rabbitohs, however I wouldn’t be shocked if we say the Bulldogs playing at Parramatta’s new stadium depending on the game day experience it can provide the clubs supporters.
This is all very good news for Rugby League but it will mean some of the games traditional home grounds will have to be left go. Playing games as busted old stadiums is fun once in a while, but keeping them up and running for a couple of games a year will just becomes unsustainable.
Strangely, the one team I think we will see out in the cold in all of this is the Penrith Panthers. The Panthers supporter base on the western edge of the city doesn’t overlap any of the venues looking to be upgraded.
While the capacity at Penrith Football Stadium isn’t an issue at the moment, as a Panthers supporter, I would love to see my team playing in a state of the art venue. Penrith wouldn’t need too much work to become a really good venue to watch the game at. However, there is not a shred of talk from the NSW Government about any sort of upgrade at Penrith in the near, or distant future.
If you want to see the game grow, you want to see bigger crowds at NRL games, and you want more people to enjoy going to NRL matches, you have to support the building of new venues for the game in Sydney.
Anyone that has been to Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane knows what Sydney supporters miss out on in terms of ease of use at the stadium and great views from every seat at the ground.
I want that for all NRL clubs, and it looks like we will get that for the big games of the season. That can only be a good thing for Rugby League.