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New Sydney Football Stadium facing delivery delay

The new Sydney Football Stadium is facing delays that could see its staging of the National Rugby League’s Grand Final in 2022 come into question.

An online community forum held by New South Wales’ Infrastructure NSW body and stadium developer John Holland revealed an updated construction timetable that outlined a “technical completion” in July 2022, but full completion not set until the end of quarter three, or the end of September.

The NSW government had previously targeted full completion in July 2022. In October, the NRL confirmed a long-term deal to keep its Grand Final in Sydney. The agreement, which will run until 2046, will see the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) host the showpiece game in 2020 and 2021 before the event moves a few yards north to Sydney Football Stadium, commercially known as Allianz Stadium, in 2022.

The Grand Final is then due to return to ANZ Stadium in 2023 after a major upgrade for the venue is completed. The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper said Infrastructure NSW and the NRL remain confident the 2022 Grand Final will be held at the new Sydney Football Stadium, but notes that any delays to the project would cause a major issue with the stadium scheduled for completion only a week before the event.

The Herald said the NRL has been assured by the state government that test events will take place ahead of the stadium’s opening. “The time between technical completion in July 2022 and the 2022 NRL Grand Final will be used for testing, commissioning and operational readiness,” a spokeswoman for NSW Infrastructure added.

Infrastructure NSW also stated the COVID-19 pandemic will not compromise the stadium project, despite shift times being altered for workers and increased cleaning on site. “Work is continuing on site and remains on track to be complete in time for the 2022 NRL Grand Final,” a spokeswoman said.

The forum is also said to have presented an updated design for the stadium, including more brick features in an effort to complement the neighbouring SCG. In December, the New South Wales government selected Chinese-owned construction group John Holland to deliver the new Sydney Football Stadium, as it emerged that the price tag for the controversial project had risen by Aus$99m (£52.1m/€58.8m/$63.5m).

In July, the NSW government was forced to commence a new search for a partner after Lendlease departed the project. Lendlease was appointed as the construction contractor for the project in December 2018 and while it successfully completed demolition work on the existing venue, Sports Minister John Sidoti said the company was no longer able to meet the government’s requirements to rebuild the stadium on the Moore Park site on budget and on time.

While John Holland was awarded the contract to build the new stadium for Aus$735m, the total estimated cost, factoring in demolition and contingency costs, in December was said to have shot up to Aus$828m. In its election manifesto, the government had pledged to complete the project for Aus$729m.

Infrastructure NSW last week announced that the project had achieved a major milestone with the start of piling works. The first of the piles going in marked the start of the major structural works for the development. At the time, Infrastructure NSW stressed that the stadium remains on track to be ready to host the 2022 NRL Grand Final.

Image: Infrastructure NSW