The New South Wales government has announced that it will no longer proceed with plans to upgrade Sydney’s ANZ Stadium, with funds to be redirected towards job-creating infrastructure projects in a bid to boost the local economy following COVID-19.

ANZ Stadium had been due to undergo redevelopment as part of a wider infrastructure project in Sydney that will also result in the rebuilding of the city’s Allianz Stadium, which has already been demolished and is set to reopen by 2022.

While the government said that the refurbishment of ANZ Stadium, also known as Stadium Australia, was a sensible project backed by the people of New South Wales, the current health and economic climate means the project “no longer makes sense”. As a result, around Aus$800m (£434m/€484m/$539m) that had been earmarked for the project will be put towards the new job-creation fund.

John Barilaro, Deputy Premier of New South Wales, said: “The communities of NSW have been through an incredibly tough period with continued drought, horrific bushfires and now COVID-19 and the best path to recovery is creating jobs.

“An unprecedented crisis calls for an unprecedented recovery and redirecting funding from Stadium Australia to job-creating infrastructure builds is the right thing to do for the people of NSW.”

Premier Gladys Berejiklian added: “This guaranteed pipeline of $100bn will be our best chance supporting the hundreds of thousands of people who have already lost their jobs in NSW. We are now not only guaranteeing our infrastructure pipeline, we will be looking for opportunities to fast-track projects to provide jobs as early as we can.”

ANZ Stadium is located on Sydney’s Olympic Park site and is used to host rugby league, rugby union, cricket and AFL matches.

The National Rugby League (NRL), which operates Australia’s top rugby league competition, has a long-term deal to keep its Grand Final in Sydney until 2046. The deal will see the Sydney Cricket Ground host the game in 2020 and 2021 before it moves to the new Allianz Stadium in 2022 and then returns to ANZ Stadium in 2023.

It recently emerged that Allianz Stadium is facing delays that could see its staging of the 2022 Grand Final 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 Sydney Morning Herald newspaper now reports that the NRL will meet with the NSW government this week over Sydney’s ability to stage the Grand Final over the coming years.

The Herald notes that the NRL’s deal with Sydney included an agreement to redevelop ANZ Stadium and build new stadia at Parramatta and Moore Park, with the newspaper adding that Queensland is poised to step in and host the event if New South Wales is unable to fulfil its hosting requirements.

However, the Herald, citing sources with knowledge of the NRL’s stadium strategy, added that the league is “delighted” with the state’s decision to abandon the ANZ Stadium refurbishment and will push for “up to four” stadia being built with capacities of 15,000 to 20,000.

Image: Adam.J.W.C.