Sydney ANZ Stadium revamp plan scrapped



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Australia ANZ stadium June 2020 update Image: MJR Group Ltd./Coliseum

The planned $810 million redevelopment of Sydney’s ANZ Stadium has been discarded by the NSW Government, committing to use the $810 million of savings into fast-tracked infrastructure projects.

The refurbishment of the venue was one of the key promises made by the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian in her poll plank in last year’s State election.

The ANZ Stadium is Australia’s second largest sports stadium. It is also known as Stadium Australia and is a multipurpose stadium located in the Sydney Olympic Park in Sydney, Australia.

Premier Berejiklian stated recently that taking into consideration the coronavirus crisis, the project “no longer makes sense”. A lot of speculations were made over halting the revamp of the former Olympic Stadium.

The funds meant for the reconfiguration of the facility will now be redirected towards job-creating infrastructure projects in a bid to give a shot in the arm to the local economy which she hopes will generate up to 20,000 jobs in the State.

Explaining the change, Premier Berejiklian said “Yes, the ANZ stadium was a priority for us, but since the pandemic, the priorities have changed. We want to put every dollar we have into job creation and into job keeping.”

The 20-year-old venue had been due to undergo redevelopment as part of a sporting infrastructure scheme that saw the new Bankwest Stadium come up and the rebuilding of the Sydney Football Stadium.

The move to scrap the redecoration of the ANZ Stadium has been criticized by the Western Sydney Chamber of Commerce, who said the region just lost thousands of job opportunities.

Remarked Chamber of Commerce Executive Director David Borger, “This was a project that was ready to start employing thousands of workers and materials to keep the economy moving during a downturn. Not doing ANZ Stadium means not spending any money in Western Sydney and it would’ve taken a couple of years to build to pull us out of this recession.”

He said it would have had an “ongoing tourism multiplier effect” which was “frankly more significant than smaller projects”.

“The reason we’re doing this is to make sure we have the best possible experience for people attending, that we can keep attracting great content, that Sydney can continue to compete in a tourism sense,” Borger further stated.

“It was one of the few projects that’s absolutely ready for a shovel in the ground. It would have created lots of jobs very quickly,” he further noted.

“This is an opportunity to give that collection a brand-new audience in western Sydney, and for western Sydney for the first time to have its very own major museum,” the Chamber of Commerce official added.

State shadow treasurer Walt Secord hailed the decision not to go ahead with the repurposing of the stadium, but stated the Government should go further and scrap plans to move the museum.

“The ANZ decision is the first step and the second step should be the Powerhouse Museum,” he stated.

“We want to see that redirected to fast-track upgrades to schools and hospitals. We want to create jobs, jobs, jobs,” Secord further observed.
He called the Powerhouse Museum project “a six-year farce” stating it has not created a single job.

“We support jobs, but the premier has missed the golden opportunity,” Secord asserted.

The decision could well impact the National Rugby League (NRL) which has a long-term deal to keep its Grand Final in Sydney until 2046.

Set to hold the showpiece event at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 2020 and 2021 and at the new Sydney Football Stadium in 2022, it was then due to return to ANZ Stadium in 2023.

However, media reports stated that the NRL is seeking to have the funds not spent on the ANZ Stadium diverted into the redevelopment of suburban sports grounds that host Sydney’s NRL clubs.

Media reports further stated that the NRL will soon meet with the NSW Government over Grand Final hosting arrangements over the coming years and is reportedly aiming to secure funding for “up to four” stadia being built that can hold up to 15,000 to 20,000 supporters.

While the redevelopment plan of ANZ Stadium is not going ahead, the NSW Government’s plans to relocate the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta are to go ahead as planned.

Berejiklian informed that the controversial Powerhouse Museum relocation would create 1100 direct jobs and 2400 indirect jobs.

It is also reported that the funding would be redirected towards a $3 billion acceleration fund for smaller, shovel-ready projects across NSW.

The premier didn’t say what shovel-ready projects the acceleration fund would support.

Berejiklian said it was “devastating” to lose more than 220,000 jobs in a month – not counting people on JobKeeper – because of the lockdowns enforced to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said it was in NSW’s best interests to redirect the stadium money into projects across the State – “in the regions, in our smaller communities, but also in our larger cities”.

She foreshadowed asset recycling and said the State would be “borrowing for the first time in a long time, at a scale we’ve not done before”.

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