New South Wales Government Decides To No Longer Fund Suburban Grounds
The issue of National Rugby League suburban grounds "is again in the headlines after the State government on Sunday suggested they would no longer fund iconic league venues like Shark Park and Leichhardt Oval," according to Nick Walshaw of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. Instead, New South Wales Sports Minister Stuart Ayres said that "all future spending would be pumped into major venues such as ANZ and Allianz stadiums." However, many of the six Sydney clubs still playing out of suburban grounds -- Wests Tigers, Parramatta, St. George Illawarra, Cronulla, Manly and Penrith -- "enjoy far superior records at their less than salubrious homes." With more than 17,000 fans watching Cronulla play Newcastle at Remondis Stadium on Sunday, Sharks CEO Steve Noyce "insisted such grounds should play a part in league’s future." Noyce said, "There has to be a place for these (suburban) grounds. I appreciate the NRL is working on a new stadium policy but, right now, Remondis Stadium is definitely where we want to be playing for the next few years" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 7/14). In Sydney, Michael Chammas reported NRL Penrith Panthers GM Phil Gould said that "the state government’s decision to scrap further funding for suburban grounds won’t hinder plans to build a new stadium in western Sydney." The Panthers "have been working closely with the government in the hope of a new stadium being built in Penrith," with plans drawn up for a A$350M ($329M) complex on the site of Sportingbet Stadium. Gould said that the Panthers "had been anticipating the announcement for some time." He believes the people of western Sydney "deserve a new facility to be built in the area." Gould: "We totally understand the government’s position. We have been very proactive in holding discussions with the government on its future stadia strategy. We are encouraged by Minister Ayres’ reference to the possibility of a third major stadium being built in Western Sydney" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 7/13).