NSW Government backs down on Olympic Stadium knockdown

NSW Government backs down on Olympic Stadium knockdown
ANZ stadium at Sydney Olympic Park. Photo by BigBlueOcean via Wikimedia Commons

The NSW state government has backed down from its controversial proposal to demolish the Sydney Olympic Stadium and will instead refurbish the iconic sports venue. Gladys Berejiklian, the NSW premier, was coming under increased pressure regarding a $2 billion AUD plan to demolish the 80,000 seat Sydney Olympic Stadium in Homebush.

However, the government will go on ahead with its plans to demolish and reconstruct Moore Park’s Sydney Football Stadium. Work is expected to begin later in 2018.

Ms Berejiklian said that around “two thirds” of the Sydney Olympic Stadium would have a touch up, and that this new blueprint would save $500 million in taxpayer money. She said the upgrades would “change the atmosphere of the entire stadium”.

She went on to say that the most important upgrade was a “rectangular stadium” which would enable fans to be “closer to the action”. She said that this upgrade was necessary for “a world-class stadium”.

This backpedal by the NSW government comes a year from the next state election. The policy to knock down the stadium was signed off on in November last year but has been divisive in the NSW parliament ever since.

The Premier told everyone that the initial forecasting showed it was cheaper to demolish and build a new stadium than to refurbish the old one. It seems that for Ms Berejiklian, this is no longer the case.

She said that “we’ve listened to the community” during a press conference where she was questioned about the political backflip. She went on by saying that her party was not sorry for “doing our homework”.

The demolishment and rebuilding would have cost $1.3 billion AUD, which Ms Berejiklian said was too much for the community to tolerate.

Luke Foley, the NSW Opposition Leader, wasted no time in attacking on the initial spending plan. He has repeatedly promised that the money Labor was spending on a stadium he would instead spend on hospitals and schools.

Mr Foley went a step further than making it a battle of education and health vs sport. He claimed that the government was giving special treatment to the eastern suburbs – where the football stadium is – over the western suburbs.

The new Sydney Football Stadium is estimated to seat 45,000 people.

Ms Berejiklian also said that the NRL grand final would continue to be hosted in Sydney for the next 25 years. She insisted that Sydney would have lost several sporting events had her government not invested in sports stadiums.