Sydney is at risk of losing the NRL grand final to its northern rivals unless the NSW Government delivers on its promise to upgrade suburban stadiums.
ARLC chairman Peter V’landys had a meeting with Premier Dominic Perrottet on Monday night, hoping to guarantee the deal to revamp four stadiums would be honored.
The agreement would see Brookvale Oval, Leichhardt Oval, Penrith Stadium and Shark Park receive significant upgrades — and if delivered, the grand finale would remain in Sydney for the next 20 years until 2042.
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But, according to The Daily Telegraph, V’landys is fuming as the initial deal struck in May to spend $800 million on stadium improvements is now in doubt.
“We are in delicate negotiations with the NSW government,” V’landys said.
“All options will be on the table if these negotiations fail.”
Last year, the Queensland government allowed the competition to continue, relocating all teams into the ‘Sunshine State’ due to Covid-19.
As a result, the end-of-year spectacle was played at Suncorp Stadium and now V’landys has left the door open for Queensland to host the grand final again if no deal is confirmed with the NSW government.
Meanwhile, the only stadium given confirmation of a $300 million upgrade has been Penrith’s — in the electorate of sports minister Stuart Ayres.
Mr Ayres told 2GB on Tuesday that the Premier’s negotiations are “ongoing” with the NRL, but explained there were “limitations” to the budget.
“We have been really clear with the NRL about the limitations that exist on our budget,” he said.
“We have invested well in excess of $1.5 billion. Part of that is to say that we would like to have a long-term commitment from the NRL for the grand finale.
“I think there comes a point where you have got to say we have invested enough in that sporting infrastructure and when we have got the capacity to invest in more sporting infrastructure in the future there is no reason why we won’t do that.”
During the Covid pandemic, the $800 million upgrade of Accor Stadium was scrapped and the NRL moved to shift those funds to suburban grounds — and as a result the grand finale would remain in Sydney.
But now, that money which was said to be allocated towards Brookvale, Leichhardt and Sharks Park is unlikely to be put towards upgrades.
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The Queensland government is now readying a bid to claim to NRL grand final for years to come.
2GB’S Ben Fordham questioned Mr Ayres surrounding the Panthers upgrade being approved, while other grounds are looking unlikely to receive any funding.
“You’re the Sports Minister, your home ground is Penrith, you’re a Panthers fan and for all I know you’re probably the number one ticket holder,” Fordham said.
“So they got the $300 million, so what about Brookvale, Shark Park, Leichhardt Oval… I would be seriously surprised if you don’t know the answer I am posing to you.
“Why did your home ground get the money at your home ground and the others didn’t?
“Why don’t we just tell the listeners now, those other grounds aren’t getting their redevelopments?”
“Ben, there’s a long-term strategy,” Ayres said.
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“We made decisions in what was the best interests of the public.
“We’ve had a long-term stadia strategy that we’ve been delivering since 2015. We’ve rebuilt Parramatta Stadium, we’re just about to open the new Sydney Football stadium.
“We’re committed to a stadium in Penrith, it reflects our three city strategy.
“We’ve invested well in excess of $1.5b dollars, part of that is, we’d like to have a long-term commitment from the NRL for the grand finale.
“We’ve just had Covid, we’ve had substantial flood impacts that have put more pressure on the budget.”