NRL CEO Todd Greenberg Warns Sydney Could Lose Grand Final
The '19 National Rugby League grand final "will be the last one played in Sydney in the foreseeable future" if an elected NSW Labor party "makes good on its promise to stop stadium infrastructure spending," according to Proszenko & Rugari of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Labor leader Michael Daley "has turned the stadium debate into an election issue," vowing to redirect the entire A$1.5B ($1.08B) allocated by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian's government from stadium upgrades toward investment into schools and hospitals. If Daley is successful at the ballot box, that would "effectively void the memorandum of understanding entered into between the NRL and the NSW government." Under the MOU, the NRL grand final and State of Origin games would remain in Sydney for the next 25 years if Allianz, ANZ and Western Sydney Stadiums were rebuilt or upgraded. NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said, "Clearly, if we don't have the very best stadiums, we will have to look at alternatives. Our expectation is that the memorandum of understanding will be acknowledged and executed, which effectively means we will continue to play grand finals here and they will continue to build the stadiums around the network. ... If that position changes, that forces us to make some changes to our strategy." Daley said on Tuesday that he would not be "bullied" by the NRL. He said, "I am a reasonable person and I will sit down and talk with them but I will not be bullied by the NRL into capitulating. There will be no free public money for their stadiums. I will always put schools and hospitals before stadiums" (SMH, 11/27). In Sydney, Dean Ritchie reported sources said that Queensland and Victoria would be "queuing up" to "pinch the famous grand final from Sydney." The Sydney Cricket Ground Trust reportedly funded construction of the original Sydney Football Stadium -- also known as Allianz Stadium -- at a cost of A$68M in '88. Sources close to the SCG claimed a A$730M ($527M) bill -- without Government assistance -- would "send the Trust broke." Allianz Stadium has been decommissioned since September. The NRL's MOU "requires new stadiums at Moore Park and Western Sydney along with a major upgrade of Sydney Olympic Park." Sydney Roosters Chair Nick Politis, whose club is an Allianz Stadium tenant, said that Daley was "simply echoing the sentiments of his dumped predecessor," Luke Foley. Politis: "What's new? What's changed?" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 11/26).
STAYING CONFIDENT: In Sydney, Caldwell & Ritchie reported the NRL is rallying 200,000 fans to protest Daley's refusal to spend A$1.5B of taxpayer money on stadiums, with Greenberg writing directly to the league's nine Sydney clubs "urging them to loudly speak out." It comes as Berejiklian on Monday labeled Labor's plan "reckless," saying, "Who thinks it's okay to have second or third class infrastructure? I don't think it's okay." Daley said that he was "confident that he could strike a deal to keep grand finals in Sydney." He added, "The grand final and State of Origin are going nowhere. If I'm elected Premier, I'll work with the rugby league to make sure they do stay. But the stadiums are very big commercial entities and they need to be able to stand on their own two feet" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 11/27).