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SCG Trust rejects Allianz Stadium report

Sydney Cricket Ground Trust, operator of Allianz Stadium, has hit back at a report that claimed the venue could have been renovated for as little as Aus$18m (£9.8m/€11.3m/$12.8m).

The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, citing a SCG Trust report commissioned in 2016, yesterday (Thursday) said the stadium could have been redeveloped at a fraction of the Aus$730m it will cost to rebuild the venue.

The New South Wales government plans on demolishing Allianz Stadium and building a new 45,000-seat stadium that will feature a hybrid steel and wood roof. The project has proved highly political ahead of state elections that are due to take place tomorrow.

The SCG Trust has now rejected the Herald’s report, releasing a statement which claimed the information is “misleading and incorrect”. The statement added: “The report referred to in the article outlined $130m in capital works required. Of this amount, $105.8m comprised end of life replacement of assets predominately of a safety, security and compliance nature.

“Of the remaining assets with some residual useful life, a further $18 million would be required to be spent on safety, security and compliance. To isolate the $18m is misleading. The $18m referenced in the article accounts for replacement of electrical boards, emergency lighting, exit signage and fire detection systems only.

“This total cost of $130m is only for basic compliance and does not consider improving the stadium for ingress and egress, disabled access, female spectator and player facilities, roof coverage nor meeting seismic code standards. It would have extended the life of the building for five years.

“A full safety, security and compliance upgrade of Allianz Stadium was costed at $341m in the Infrastructure NSW Base Case in March 2018.”

The project has proven to be a divisive issue ahead of the state election. The Labor and Greens parties have both strongly opposed the government’s stadium plan but the demolition appears set to go ahead.

Last week, a last-ditch attempt to halt the demolition failed after Sydney’s Local Democracy Matters group lost its latest legal appeal. It came after the New South Wales Land and Environment Court ruled that Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s government did not breach its own planning rules for the project and that the demolition could proceed.

The dispute rumbled on today as Labor leader Michael Daley criticised Berejiklian’s government for querying the independent costing of his party’s plan to make the SCG Trust take out a loan to redevelop Allianz Stadium instead of using taxpayer money.

The Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) on Monday said the policy would boost the state’s budget position by Aus$685m over four years. Questions had been raised about the costing figures, but these were rejected by the PBO today.

The PBO said in a statement reported by the AAP news agency: “The PBO has not seen any compelling reason that would lead to a change of the costing. The PBO notes that any party can ask a question. The PBO examines any such questions carefully. Asking a question does not cancel a costing.”

In response, Daley has claimed Berejiklian’s office was attempting to bully the PBO into changing its costing ahead of the election, stating the move was “unacceptable”. Daley said Labor’s plan for Allianz Stadium remains viable, adding that the venue could still be “beautifully refurbished” in its current state if he is elected premier.

“Labor’s policy still stands,” he said. “This government has been slapped down by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office, who says there was no change to their policy.”

Image: SCG Trust