The NSW Rugby League have unveiled plans for a $20 million Centre of Excellence and headquarters in western Sydney.
Jointly funded by the NSWRL and state government, the facility at Sydney Olympic Park will house the NSWRL administration and feature a field and training facilities which will be used by the NSW State of Origin side.
The brainchild of NSW coach Laurie Daley, the complex will be built next to ANZ Stadium and serve as the Blues’ base camp during future Origin series.
The training field will be used by the Blues during camps and on Origin game day fans will be able to watch the team warm up before the players walk over to the ground via a tunnel which was used by athletes during the 2000 Olympics.
It’s hoped the facility will be ready to use by the 2018 Origin series and will replace Coffs Harbour as the Blues’ home base.
“It takes us into a new sphere because we’ve never really had a home,” Blues coach Laurie Daley said.
“Coffs Harbour has been terrific and we’re going back there next year and it’s certainly been great for us. But to have our own purpose-built facility will give us a better chance to have success.”
NSW have been given the land under a leasehold agreement with the Sydney Olympic Park Authority and the facility will be constructed using funds from the state government and NSWRL.
The NSWRL hope to have the field built next year and the facility open by the end of 2017.
Meanwhile the NRL has responded to fan anger over State of Origin tickets by slashing prices to the two matches at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium next year.
Tickets for games one and three at ANZ Stadium go on sale this week and the NRL has responded to sluggish sales this year by providing a number of cut-price early bird tickets.
As well as a limited number of $35 tickets, two-game passes for both Sydney matches will be on sale for $75 for NRL club ticketed members and $85 for the general public.
The opening game of the 2015 Origin series at ANZ Stadium failed to sell out following a hike in ticket prices.
The match attracted a crowd of 80,122, but only after 2000 tickets were given away to NSW State Emergency Services volunteers.
In Queensland, fans were slow to snap up tickets to game III at Suncorp Stadium because of price jumps.
Maroons captain Cameron Smith pleaded with officials to drop prices after blue collar fans reacted angrily to premium tickets going for as much as $465, however the game eventually sold out after the series went to a decider.