Rugby lifts roof on new sta­dium

Herald on Sunday - - IN OTHER NEWS -

Af­ter much de­bate and po­lit­i­cal war­fare, the New South Wales Govern­ment has com­mit­ted to re­build­ing Al­lianz Sta­dium as part of a strat­egy that will also see a new Par­ra­matta Sta­dium built and ANZ Sta­dium re­fur­bished at a cost of at least $700 mil­lion, re­ports rugby.com.au.

Wrapped in a bronze fa­cade and with a hi-tech roof that can be lit in a home team’s colours, the new Al­lianz Sta­dium — for­merly the Syd­ney Foot­ball Sta­dium — will hold 45,000 spec­ta­tors and boast far bet­ter game-day fa­cil­i­ties for fans than the run-down old ver­sion.

The sta­dium, de­signed by the same ar­chi­tects who cre­ated the orig­i­nal in 1988, will also have up­graded chang­ing room ca­pac­ity, with fa­cil­i­ties specif­i­cally tai­lored to be fe­male-friendly.

With the old Al­lianz Sta­dium not meet­ing build­ing code and safety stan­dards, Rugby Aus­tralia put their sup­port be­hind the pro­posal to knock down and re­build, which NSW Sports Min­is­ter Stuart Ayres said came in at al­most the same price as a re­fur­bish­ment.

Rugby Aus­tralia boss Rae­lene Cas­tle said there would be a large num­ber of ben­e­fits for rugby in the im­pres­sive new sta­dium.

“From a fan ex­pe­ri­ence point of view, the Waratahs will have a world-class sta­dium to play in, which is im­por­tant,” Cas­tle said.

“Our Syd­ney Sev­ens event, which we have here in NSW, it’s a great lo­ca­tion for us, in the fu­ture for our Syd­ney sev­ens.

“And also for us, that high tier Wal­laby con­tent, for a fan ex­pe­ri­ence to have a great world-class sta­dium to ex­pe­ri­ence that in is im­por­tant.

“But equally we now have a sta­dium that al­lows our back of house op­er­a­tions and our ath­letes to have a great ex­pe­ri­ence, and dress in chang­ing rooms that are ap­pro­pri­ate for high per­for­mance ath­letes.”

It is ex­pected de­mo­li­tion will be­gin on Al­lianz Sta­dium in De­cem­ber and the new sta­dium will be opened in early 2022.

Hav­ing a new sta­dium in Moore Park will no doubt raise ques­tions about whether Rugby Aus­tralia would think about tak­ing Bledis­loe Cup games back to the east, as was once cus­tom­ary. Cas­tle said the an­swer is yes, but only tem­po­rar­ily.

Big­ger venues bring big­ger rev­enues but with ANZ Sta­dium not likely to be avail­able in 2022, the Wal­la­bies look likely to play a July test at the new Al­lianz sta­dium and then host the All Blacks in Moore Park for the first time since 1998.

Rae­lene Cas­tle

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