Tens of thousands of signatures have been collected to oppose the New South Wales government’s decision to demolish and rebuild two stadia in Sydney, Australia, at a cost of approximately Aus$2bn (€1.29bn/$1.52bn/£1.14bn). 

Work on the Allianz Stadium, previously known as the Sydney Football Stadium, is expected to begin next year, before the focus shifts to the Olympic Stadium, now known as the ANZ Stadium (pictured), in 2019.

The online petition opposing the major development project, which was posted on Change.org on Saturday evening, gained more than 50,000 names by Sunday evening.

The petition reads: “We, the undersigned, respectfully call on the Premier of NSW, Gladys Berejiklian, and the NSW Cabinet, to reconsider their decision to knock down two perfectly fine sports stadiums.

“We are tired of taxpayer dollars being lavished on building facilities for sports big business, while community sport withers on the vine for lack of facilities and resources.” 

In the petition, it is suggested to the NSW government that it could instead use the money to “lower registration fees” on children’s sports, and provide funding for community sports facilities.

Although specific details of the project have not yet been made available to the public, the Australian Associated Press news agency has said that the ANZ Stadium will be substantially demolished and could feature a retractable roof. Work on the venue is set to take up to two-and-a-half years. 

The Allianz Stadium will also be rebuilt, but retain a capacity of 45,000. The total number of seats in ANZ Stadium is expected to be between 75,000 and 80,000 after the rebuild, despite earlier reports suggesting that this could be as low as 65,000.

Confirmation of the project comes as work continues on the redevelopment of Parramatta Stadium, also in the Australian city. The new Western Sydney stadium is due for completion in 2019 and, combined with the government’s Aus$200m purchase of the Olympic Stadium, brings the total cost of work to Aus$2.5bn.