“I assume if the state government is to backflip on its commitment to fund suburban stadiums, then the $300 million committed to the Penrith stadium can now be better utilized for schools and hospitals? It would be outrageous for Penrith to retain its stadium for the obvious political benefit of its local member. These are public funds and should be managed for the benefit of the public. This government has enough issues to deal with without creating more for itself.”
Cronulla had been told they would receive between $100m to $130m for the upgrade of their venue.
“All indications to date have been positive discussions around PointsBet Stadium and the confidence around getting the funding for the very reasons the Sharks managed to demonstrate,” Sharks CEO Dino Mezzatesta told the herald.
“We’re No.1 in many areas, particularly around participation. Having just taken a women’s license as well, we now can’t host double-headers.
“This money was critical for the sustainability of the club long term to be able to host not only double-headers but home semi-finals as well.”
Ayres, speaking at the announcement of a community open day for Sydney’s new Allianz Stadium, conceded the government’s spending priorities had changed and that the state may need to “wait a little bit longer” for further stadium upgrades.
“We’ve got a long track record of [stadia investment],” Ayres said.
“We also know we have limitations on what we can do. We have continued our engagement with the NRL, we want to be able to upgrade suburban infrastructure, but we want to be able to do that when the fiscal capacity for the state allows for it.
“Let’s recognize that we have just been through some of the most significant floods and consistent flooding over the last couple of years. So there are lots of costs that are associated with it. We will continue to talk with the NRL around the things we can afford to do. But we have got priorities and we’ve got to stick to those … It might just mean we have to wait a little bit longer before we can spend additional money on [stadium upgrades].”
Asked about the prospect of the NRL taking the grand final interstate because the government didn’t deliver on its promises, Ayres said: “If the NRL took the grand final from Sydney, after the NSW government has spent in excess of $1.5 billion on sporting infrastructure that massively benefits the NRL … if the NRL walked away from the home of its sport here in NSW, the state where the grand final has always been played in with the exception of the COVID grand final from last year, that would be an extraordinary move.
“I’m very confident that the NRL will keep the grand finale here in NSW. They know it is the right thing to do. They know they have had an exceptional partner in the NSW government, but there are limitations to what governments can do.
“I think we will continue a very good working relationship with the NRL to have the best events in NSW.”
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