NSW sports minister Stuart Ayres has become embroiled in a war of words with Allianz Stadium’s major tenants in the protracted debate over Sydney stadia.
The Sydney Roosters, NSW Waratahs and Sydney FC have called for an urgent summit with NSW premier Mike Baird to sort out the mess.
The clubs claim NSW government plans to rebuild Allianz Stadium on its current site would significantly impact their business as they are forced to find interim homes.
Speaking on behalf of the clubs, Roosters boss John Lee said previous negotiations had pointed to a new stadium being built on an adjoining site – allowing them to stay at Allianz Stadium while the new ground was being built.
Baird has ruled out using a new site, leaving the three tenants to instead push for a substantial refurbishment of the existing venue.
“In all the negotiations with the three clubs, the knock down and rebuild on the new site was the preferred option,” Lee said on Tuesday.
“The rebuild on the same site was just not an option to consider.”
However Ayres insisted an alternative site for the new stadium was never an option.
“The clubs have made their positions clear, and in the case of the Waratahs, Roosters and also Sydney FC, that their preference is not to have a stadium on the Trust land, they do not want to be dislocated,” Ayres said.
“I have maintained in all of my discussions with clubs what the government’s stated intention is, which is to build a new stadium on SCG Trust land, to build a new stadium at Parramatta and to provide an upgrade to ANZ Stadium.”
The NSW government has committed to a rebuild of Pirtek Stadium and a major reconfiguration of ANZ Stadium.
The Roosters, Waratahs and Sydney FC fear a four-year displacement would have a disastrous effect upon their businesses.
“We will avoid displacement at any cost,” Lee said.
“A refurbishment is very sensible, it is cheaper and we would like the premier to agree to a meeting about the logistics as to why a refurbishment is better than a knockdown.”
If Baird’s current proposal goes ahead, it is likely the Roosters could be forced to play out of ANZ Stadium, while it is unclear where the Waratahs and Sydney FC would call home.
“What we don’t want is to lose our home,” Lee said.
“As you would know from that famous movie The Castle, it is about the vibe, it is about the constitution, so we don’t want to be in a position where we will lose our home.”
Penrith supremo Phil Gould urged all clubs to consider the bigger picture.
“We need to put self interest to the side for the moment and have a look at what it’s going to look like in 20 to 30 years time,” he said.
“The reality is that at small suburban stadiums, you can’t grow your business.”