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Sydney's ANZ Stadium "could be turned into a fully roofed, rectangular football ground enabling fans to sit on the sidelines under a visionary plan" unveiled by Sport Minister Graham Annesley, according to John Lehmann of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. The stadium upgrade is outlined in a new video masterplan for Sydney Olympic Park, which also "envisages new clubs, bars, restaurants, a gymnasium, pool and a rock climbing wall on ANZ Stadium." The masterplan comes as stadium operators Stadium Australia Group "push for the state government to commit funds to upgrade the 14-year-old stadium." They said that the stadium "must remain competitive with Asian and other Australian venues to ensure Sydney continues to attract major events" such as this month's ManU football match, which is forecast to pump A$16M ($14.7M) into the New South Wales economy. Futuristic photographs of the stadium "show how new seats at the try-scoring ends of the stadium would be able to be reconfigured to be pushed closer to the field." The new seating arrangement "could mean the stadium's capacity shrinks slightly" from 83,500 to about 80,000, depending on the final engineering design (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 7/2).
RAISING THE ROOF: In Sydney, Megan Levy reported ANZ Stadium Managing Dir Daryl Kerry said that weather-proofing the stadium "was vital so that it continued to attract world-class sporting and entertainment events." Kerry said, "Putting a roof on the stadium will weather-proof the major events going forward, while moving stands north and south will create an even more dramatic atmosphere for the football codes that prefer a true rectangular field" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 7/2). Also in Sydney, Lehmann reported at least A$286M in taxpayers' money "has been pumped into stadium upgrades scattered across Sydney in the past seven years without a co-ordinated sports infrastructure plan." Parramatta Stadium scored A$20M from the Rudd government to increase seating to 24,000, as ANZ Stadium "began a campaign" to secure A$250M "to build a roof and improve seating" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 7/3).
MID-LIFE CRISIS: The DAILY TELEGRAPH also reported ANZ Stadium is now 14 years old, which means in terms of modern sporting venues that "it's almost middle-aged." A makeover "is now due," with special emphasis being given to "enhancing viewing for spectators." Even in a multi-media age, with sports events able to be accessed on everything from mobiles to laptops, stadiums "still stand or fall on the quality of the live audience experience." The National Rugby League is "under pressure to encourage some clubs to play more games at central stadiums, such as ANZ and Allianz, to ensure public funds are not wasted by continually upgrading smaller grounds" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 7/2).
La Liga side Athletic Bilbao's board of directors has approved "the club's intention to relocate the famous arch at the old San Mamés ground," according to FOOTBALL ESPANA. The club approved relocation of the arch to its training facilities at Lezama. The landmark will be "taken down from its current position and transported" on Wednesday (FOOTBALL ESPANA, 7/2). EL PAIS reported the "most symbolic element of the emblematic stadium now has its final destination." The arch, which was built in '53, will be disassembled into 12 parts to be moved (EL PAIS, 7/2).
Sydney's "big wet has caused the cancellation of Randwick (after three races) and Rosehill on the last two important Saturdays, costing its industry millions in tote-driven earnings," according to Matt Stewart of the HERALD SUN. A handful of provincial meetings "also have been washed out," but Racing New South Wales, backed by the state's two top trainers, "refuses to consider a synthetic solution." Some say that "synthetic tracks, particularly the inner track at Geelong, provide unattractive racing and cause higher injury rates." Racing NSW CEO Peter V'landys "was scathing in his assessment of synthetic tracks last Sunday, saying they 'cost millions of dollars to install, they haven't been successful and are not popular with punters.'" Trainer Peter Snowden agreed synthetic was not the solution, saying that "low betting on artificial tracks such as Caloundra and Ipswich in Queensland proved punters disliked them" (HERALD SUN, 7/2).
Relegated EPL side Wigan Athletic Chair Dave Whelan "has bought a Lancashire golf course with the intention of developing it into the football club's new training ground," according to the BBC. A club spokesperson said work could begin on converting the 89-acre (36 hectare) Charnock Richard Golf Club near Chorley "by the end of the year." The spokesperson added the course would "operate as normal" for the remainder of the current golf season (BBC, 7/2). In Wigan, Greg Farrimond reported Whelan purchased the 89-acre site at an auction on Friday, "with the view to develop it into a state-of-the-art facility." The move "also brings to an end original proposals to build on a plot of land by Wrightington Country Club; a move which had been met by opposition in the area." The club "will now discuss planning permission with the local authority in Chorley" (WIGAN TODAY, 7/2).