NSW Premier Mike Baird has put the heat on major sporting codes to hold up their end of the bargain after saying he’s ready to spend more than $1 billion to modernise Sydney stadiums.
Mr Baird unveiled a long-awaited stadiums plan on Friday with a promise to start building a 30,000-seat venue at the Pirtek Stadium site in Parramatta “straight away”.
The western Sydney venue is expected to cost about $300 million, with construction due to be completed by 2019.
The government also wants over the next decade to build a new rectangular stadium with up to 55,000 seats to replace Allianz Stadium at Moore Park, a new indoor arena near the central business district – possibly at the Sydney Entertainment Centre site – and a new outer western Sydney sporting venue.
“The greatest city in the world deserves the greatest sporting facilities,” Mr Baird told reporters.
The premier said the government had already set aside $600 million and Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian would soon detail funding arrangements that would unlock another $1 billion for the stadiums strategy.
But Mr Baird wants sporting codes, including the NRL, to commit to handing Sydney the big games that will justify all the spending.
“We have to finalise the business case, we have to finalise the costings, but at the same time we also have to finalise the content,” he said.
“We’re happy to bring forward these investments but we’re doing it on the basis that the codes can provide the content that this city deserves, and supports the overall economics.”
A proposed deal that would guarantee Sydney hosts the NRL grand finals and State of Origins for a set number of years has not been struck but “everything is on the table”, he said.
As part of the package announced on Friday, the NSW government is negotiating to acquire leasehold management rights for Stadium Australia and will put one governing entity in charge of Sydney’s stadiums network.
It is hoped this plan will stop Sydney venues competing with one another for major events.
Rugby league and soccer bosses were thrilled with the news.
“Sydney has been crying out for quality sporting venues and now we are going to get them,” NRL chief executive Dave Smith said.
Football Federation Australia boss David Gallop was delighted at the prospect of the improved Parramatta Stadium, the home ground of the Western Sydney Wanderers.
“Having the right mix of sports and entertainment venues will make a huge difference to Sydney’s stature as one of the world’s great cities,” Mr Gallop said.