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Asia

Wests Tigers will decide stadium future by end of June

Leichhardt Oval

Featured image credit: Scott Brown / CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED / Resized

Australian National Rugby League team Wests Tigers has dismissed reports that it has decided to leave Leichhardt Oval and play games at one of its rivals’ stadiums from next season.

The Sydney-based team chose to speak out after claims that it was set to switch to either Accor Stadium, CommBank Stadium or Stadium Australia from 2025. A reporter for radio station 2GB’s Continuous Call Team said Tigers have been in discussions with VenuesNSW and that it is most likely the team will share Commbank Stadium with Parramatta Eels.

However, Tigers is adamant that it is yet to conclusively decide on its future, with a three-year plan to be published by the end of June. The team has previously petitioned for state assistance in redeveloping its ageing Leichhardt Oval, while it has also been linked to plans to build a new venue.

Tigers currently plays around half its home games at Leichhardt Oval, which was opened in 1934 and has a capacity of 20,000. Tigers’ other games are currently played at the slightly smaller Campbelltown Sports Stadium.

In a statement, Tigers said: “Contrary to some inaccurate reporting in the media, Wests Tigers are still working through the club’s stadium strategy for 2025 and beyond, setting a June 30 deadline for this to be announced.

“The club is currently weighing up several options for a three-year stadium plan that we believe to be in the best interests of Wests Tigers.

“Like all club announcements, when this stadium plan has been finalised, Wests Tigers Members and stakeholders will be the first to be advised.”

Wests Tigers want slice of Penrith stadium cash

In March, Tigers chief executive Shane Richardson and local mayor Darcy Byrne went on the offensive, pleading with NSW Premier Chris Minns to redirect a 10% slice of funding allocated to Penrith’s A$309m (£160m/€187m/$204m) facelift towards an upgrade for Leichhardt Oval.

“There’s no good reason Penrith’s stadium should have gold-plated urinals, while famous Leichhardt Oval is forced to close through neglect,” Richardson said at the time. “It’s a great rugby league ground, but it’s decayed.”

Last year, reports claimed 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 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”.

The Herald added that the NRL has also 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.