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Eels strike deal to play at Western Sydney Stadium

Australian NRL rugby league club the Parramatta Eels has now struck an agreement in principle to play home games at the new Western Sydney Stadium, having earlier this month rejected a deal.

The 30,000-seat facility has been built on the site of the old Parramatta stadium that was demolished in 2017 and is due to open in April.

The Eels had been expected to be one of its main tenants until the team rejected a deal to play at the venue, claiming a proposal represented unacceptable commercial terms.

However, the team now appears set to play its home games at the stadium after all, with chief executive Bernie Gurr having today (Thursday) issued a statement outlining the club’s plans.

In a letter to Eels Members published on the team’s website, Gurr said: “I am writing to share the great news that we have reached an ‘agreement-in-principle’ to play the future home games of the Parramatta Eels at the magnificent Western Sydney Stadium. This agreement-in-principle commences in 2019 and confirms the Parramatta Eels will be a key anchor tenant at Western Sydney Stadium.

“Following detailed negotiations with the stadium operator (VenuesLive), our board and management are satisfied that all issues have been addressed and the focus is now on ensuring Western Sydney Stadium and the Parramatta Leagues Club precinct will deliver the best game day experience for our Members, corporate partners and community stakeholders.

“The opening game at Western Sydney Stadium is scheduled to be our home game in Round 6 of the 2019 NRL Premiership against the Wests Tigers on Easter Monday, 22 April 2019. We are extremely pleased to have reached this stage and to confirm Western Sydney Stadium as our new home. This stadium will provide our Members and commercial partners with an outstanding game day experience and will also contribute to the club’s financial stability, allowing us to invest further in our football teams.”

Gurr had said that the previous proposal with VenuesLive was “unacceptable” and said the club’s home games in 2019 would be listed as to be confirmed when the league released its fixture list.

Western Sydney Stadium will also host A-League football club Western Sydney Wanderers. Last week, Super Rugby franchise the New South Wales Waratahs committed to playing three matches at the venue, while the Eels’ NRL rival, Wests Tigers, have already agreed to play four games there.

Image: Infrastructure NSW