National Rugby League to remain in Sydney

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Sydney Cricket Ground Image: SCGT

Australia’s top rugby league competition – which is managed by the National Rugby League (NRL) – has entered into a long-term agreement to keep its Grand Final in Sydney.

As part of the deal, the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) will organize the showpiece game in 2020 and 2021 before the event moves a few yards north to Allianz Stadium in 2022. The agreement will run until 2046.

In 2023, the Grand Final will return to ANZ Stadium which is undergoing an Au$810m (£441m/€499m/$549m) improvisation work, the timescale of which was confirmed last month.

The face-lifting work of ANZ Stadium at Sydney Olympic Park has been mired in controversy for the past few months. The overhauling work is part of a major infrastructure project. While ANZ Stadium is being overhauled, Allianz Stadium at Moore Park will be pulled down and rebuilt by 2022.

As the redevelopment plans were being hugely delayed, speculations were rife that the match would be moving away from Sydney for the first time. The NRL Chief Executive, Todd Greenberg, and the New South Wales Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, saved the day after getting into a deal. However, the league said that staging the game at the SCG is “not a great experience”.

Media reports stated that the pact is to the tune of more than Aus$15m – the most lucrative offer on the table. Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth were also keen to host the occasion.

“By 2023, the game will have three brand new state-of-the-art rugby league venues to ensure the optimum game day experience for our fans while our bottom line will not be impacted by using alternative Grand Final venues during the construction phase,” Greenberg said.

“This deal will benefit rugby league fans everywhere because it ensures we can continue to increase investment in grassroots participation right across the country,” he further stated.

Greenberg added, “Effectively, it’s long-term thinking for our fans. What that means is we’ll have some short-term pain to get through during the next few years, but what the ultimate prize are Aus$2bn of infrastructure development, three brand-new stadiums in Sydney.”

Bankwest Stadium, which went on stream in Western Sydney in April, is the third venue alluded by Greenberg.

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