Wests Tigers targeting new stadium in Liverpool

Featured image credit: Leichhardt Oval

National Rugby League (NRL) club Wests Tigers is targeting the development of a new 20,000-seat stadium in Liverpool, a suburb of Greater Western Sydney.

The Sydney Morning Herald said Tigers chairman, Lee Hagipantelis, and Liverpool Mayor Ned Mannoun met New South Wales Sports Minister Steve Kamper earlier this week to put forward the plan, which is still said to be in its infancy.

Mannoun told radio station 2GB that a purpose-built stadium is overdue in what he said is rugby league’s heartland, adding he had been “out there pitching this for a very, very long time”.

Mannoun added: “Whoever has any vision, if you want to grow your market share you’d think south-west Sydney is where it’s all growing. If the Tigers see opportunity here, go for it.”

The plan would make the stadium, located in the heart of Liverpool’s CBD, the Tigers’ permanent home. However, it would reportedly depend on up to 3,000 new apartments being built on the site, consisting of private homes, public housing and build-to-rent properties.

It is hoped that the revenue from the property development would offset the majority of the cost of building the stadium, which is expected to cost taxpayers a maximum of A$100m (£52.1m/€60.3m/$63.6m). The proposed project also includes a new aquatic centre, an aged-care facility and a conference centre.

The Tigers already have plans in place with Inner West Council and Campbelltown City Council to upgrade their two existing home grounds at Leichhardt Oval and Campbelltown. The Tigers have yet to officially comment on the reports, but last week made calls for stadium improvements after confirming they would play 10 of their 12 home games next season at their two traditional home grounds, as the club celebrates its 25th season in the NRL.

Campbelltown Sports Stadium and Leichhardt Oval will each host five NRL games, with one home game to be played in Brisbane as part of Magic Round, and another still to be confirmed. Tigers CEO, Justin Pascoe, said government funding is crucial if the club is to commit long-term to home games at its two traditional venues.

“As a club we are wanting and willing to commit to this strategy, but these grounds must be fit for purpose. It’s as simple as that,” he said. “We need facilities to be improved to adequately cater for both NRL and NRLW games.

“We have invested a lot of resources into ensuring we have an elite pathway for women and one that is equal. It’s bordering on negligent to think that we don’t have female change rooms at these grounds. This is just unacceptable. 

“Government must understand that without the appropriate level of funding, these two great home grounds will become obsolete. That is something none of us want.”

The Herald added that the NRL last year made initial inquiries about developing its own stadium in south-west Sydney, approaching the Tigers and the Bulldogs to gauge their interest in playing at a potential new venue in Liverpool or Rossmore near Western Sydney airport.