Calls for several local stadiums in Sydney to be upgraded will only grow louder after shocking footage emerged of a grandstand collapsing at Leichhardt Oval.
Radio host Ryan ‘Fitzy’ Fitzgerald was attending a high school rugby union match between St Joseph’s College and Riverview on Saturday and he shared a video of an ugly incident on Twitter.
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In the clip, a Joeys player goes over for a try to the delight of the packed crowd in attendance.
But the video then shows a railing at the front of a small grandstand collapse under the weight of the fans, causing a number of them to faceplant onto concrete meters below.
Fitzgerald wrote: “Do you reckon Leichardt Oval needs an upgrade?”
It’s unclear if any of the spectators were injured. Channel 9 reported paramedics were at the scene.
The collapse happened in front of a crowd of around 15,000 and brought the game to a standstill.
The unfortunate incident will only heap more pressure on the NSW government to commit to funding upgrades to three Sydney stadiums including Leichhardt Oval, the traditional home of the Wests Tigers.
This week it emerged Sydney is on the brink of losing the NRL Grand Final after the state government reportedly walked away from an $800 million pledge.
The agreed upon deal, reportedly struck in May, is on the brink of collapsing and ARLC chairman Peter V’landys is said to be fuming.
The agreement would see Brookvale Oval ($100m), Leichhardt Oval ($50m) and Cronulla’s Shark Park ($100m) receive significant upgrades — and if delivered, the Grand Final would remain in Sydney for the next 20 years until 2042 on the proviso the Olympic venue would receive an $800m upgrade.
Those plans were scrapped during the pandemic with the NRL moving to shift those funds to suburban grounds and V’landys claiming he had received verbal confirmations from NSW Premiers Gladys Berejiklian and Dominic Perrottet for between $250 and $350 million.
Penrith Stadium was also in the agreement, however $300m has reportedly been ticked off to upgrade the grounds.
“We are in delicate negotiations with the NSW government,” V’landys said.
“All options will be on the table if these negotiations fail.”
A deadline on Tuesday passed with the two parties still staring each other down with reports Perrottet is set to walk away from a $250 million pledge to upgrade grounds, according to The Daily Telegraph.
2GB host Ben Fordham grilled NSW Sports Minister Stuart Ayres, who has since resigned from his ministerial posts for separate reasons, over why Penrith Stadium had received funding but the other grounds had not.
“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?
“Ben, there’s a long-term strategy,” Ayres said.
“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.”
The Queensland government is now readying a bid to claim to NRL grand final for years to come.