The New South Wales Government has merged Venues NSW and the Sydney Cricket & Sports Ground Trust (SCGT) to create a single organisation for sporting and entertainment venues which aims to attract blockbuster events and drive economic activity across the Australian state.

An Interim Advisory Board will be established to oversee the development of the operating model for the new entity, and will include long standing board members of the SCGT and Venues NSW.

Current SCGT chair Tony Shepherd and deputy chair Rod McGeoch will assume the same roles for the new entity. All Venues NSW and SCGT contracts, agreements and membership entitlements with sporting codes, clubs, partners and members will continue to be honoured and preserved following the merger.

NSW’s Acting Minister for Sport, Geoff Lee, said: “This merger is about placing NSW in the best possible position to attract the most exciting and sought after events so the entire state can benefit from the economic stimulation. We have made the investment in stadiums and infrastructure which are the envy of the world and now it’s time to ensure we get maximum returns.

“NSW is often competing nationally and internationally to attract major sporting events, concerts and other outdoor activities to our venues. A strong, co-ordinated and streamlined approach to attracting these major events will put our state in the best position to win them and reap the economic benefits.”

Venues NSW is the government agency responsible for all venues, including ANZ Stadium. SCGT manages the Moore Park sporting precinct, which includes the iconic SCG (pictured) and Allianz Stadium. Shepherd had initially planned to stand down as SCGT chair when his term expired in October.

He told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper: “When we have the new Sydney Football Stadium, as well as ANZ and Bankwest at Parramatta, we will have the best stadiums in the country and this will put us in a strong position to bid for international tournaments in men and women’s sport.

“This is timely because COVID gave us time to pause and think and the Premier (Gladys Berejiklian) called this and she has absolutely made the right decision because this will make a big difference.”

The potential for a new entity which would have included the SCGT was first mooted in 2015, only to be dropped in 2017. The latest announcement comes just weeks after the NSW government announced that it would no longer proceed with plans to upgrade 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, it added that the current health and economic climate meant the project “no longer made sense”. As a result, around Aus$800m (£442.3m/€489.3m/$552.4m) that had been earmarked for the project will be put towards the new job-creation fund.

Image: SCG Trust