Refurbishment of ANZ Stadium at Olympic Park would deliver fewer “blockbuster” events

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The state government’s planned $810 million refurbishment of ANZ Stadium at Olympic Park would deliver fewer “blockbuster” events than a completely new stadium and would not result in the same increase in fan attendance, the government’s business case for the project says.

And the business case for a new stadium at Moore Park assumes that it draws more NRL fixtures from suburban grounds in Sydney.

The Berejiklian government was last week forced to release the full business cases for its controversial scheme of building a new 40-45,000 seat stadium at Moore Park for $730 million and refurbishing ANZ Stadium at Olympic Park into a permanently rectangular 70,000 seat stadium for $810 million.

That policy, however, represented a back-down on Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s prior positionof wanting to build a completely new stadium to replace ANZ at Olympic Park, at a cost of $1.3 billion.

The business case for the project shows why the government first wanted to build a new stadium, committing to a smaller rebuild after public outcry about the cost of its overall policy.

According to the business case prepared by KPMG, a redeveloped ANZ Stadium would not meet the requirements of the Australian Rugby League Commission agreed in a memorandum of understanding with the NSW government, which meant there will be a “decrease in both the number and frequency” of blockbuster events hosted at ANZ Stadium. For instance, KPMG assumed one in every three NRL grand finals would be sold interstate.

The NRL has since committed to playing the grand final in Sydney for the next 25 years, while a subsequent internal government review found the assumption that Sydney would lose major events if it only redeveloped ANZ was too conservative.

Nevertheless KPMG assumed that redeveloping ANZ – as the government proposes to do – would likely lead to only a 10 per cent average increase in attendance. In contrast, building a completely new stadium would likely have led to a 15 per cent increase in attendance.

Labor’s sports spokeswoman, Lynda Voltz, criticised the assumptions for under-estimating the number of games currently played at the stadium, which made the case for a new stadium look better.

“For Allianz Stadium the government appears to have taken every care presenting the best possible case to ensure the Sydney Cricket & Sports Ground Trust gets a new stadium,” Ms Voltz said.

The government’s chosen option of a refurbished ANZ Stadium does not allow for a retractable roof to be fitted. This means Sydney will remain without a major stadium with a retractable roof; the roof at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne helped that city win the rights to host the US men’s basketball team in two fixtures against the Boomers next year.

The Sports Minister, Stuart Ayres, said: “The transformation of Stadium Australia will bring 46,000 fans closer to the action, provide roof cover for every seat and keep the NRL Grand Final in Sydney for the next 25 years.”

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