Thirty NRL games a year but only Eels commit

The NSW state government has put forward a development application that anticipates 30 NRL games per year will be played at the new Parramatta stadium despite the Eels being the only club committed to use the venue.

Fairfax Media understands the Bulldogs, Tigers, Rabbitohs, Panthers and Dragons aren’t keen to take games to the 30,000-seat venue when it opens in 2019 despite the government’s estimation that three NRL clubs would use the new facility.

It’s likely only 11 Eels NRL games will be played at the Western Sydney Stadium when it opens, however there is a possibility ANZ Stadium could be shut down for two years during the redevelopment to turn the Olympic stadium into a permanent rectangular facility.

In the stage two development application for the western Sydney stadium submitted last week, a breakdown of the anticipated use of the venue has the NRL down for 30 games, while Football Federation Australia/A-League (15 games), National Rugby Championship (three games), Super Rugby (one game) were also included.

The government’s plans include three NRL games in the month of October. But given the only NRL match played during that month is the grand final, it raises doubts over the planning for the use of the ground.

The Environmental Impact Statement put forward by JBA Urban planning consultants also has a list of typical event attendances which includes the Eels and Wanderers and two unnamed NRL teams referred to as “NRL team 2” and “NRL team 3” with expected crowds of 17,490 and 12,980 respectively.

The state government did require a 65-game commitment from the NRL to back the investment into major stadiums, however that commitment didn’t specify which venue the clubs would play at.

“The NSW government does not determine where NRL clubs play their matches,” a Venues NSW spokesperson said.

“The stage two planning application assesses the potential impacts to the community and environment during operation of the new stadium including traffic, access and noise amongst other things. The number of event days for the stadium is expected to increase from current stadium operations.”

The South Sydney Rabbitohs and Canterbury Bulldogs have long-term contracts in place to continue playing out of ANZ Stadium and would likely only consider using the Parramatta venue if their home ground is locked up during reconstruction.

ANZ Stadium had originally been earmarked to be redeveloped in stages over four years that would allow the venue to continue hosting regular season matches.

However there is a suggestion the redevelopment time frame could be halved, forcing clubs to take games to other venues including the new western Sydney stadium.

The Dragons are weighing up their venue strategy which expires at the end of this season, but given their commitment to Kogarah and Wollongong it’s highly unlikely they’ll consider playing out of Parramatta.

The Wests Tigers are in a similar predicament in their commitment to Leichhardt and Campbelltown but are also in discussions over their venue strategy.

The Panthers have no intentions of leaving the foot of the mountains, recently ending a $250,000 deal to play a game in Christchurch to reaffirm their commitment to the region.

“The impact of up to three NRL clubs using the stadium on a regular basis has been assessed to ensure an adequate study of potential impacts to the community and environment. It will also ensure that planning approval for the new stadium is sufficient if other sporting franchises decide to use the stadium.”


NRL: 30 gamesA-League: 12 gamesW-League/FFA: 3 gamesSuper Rugby: 1 gameNRC: 3 gamesConcerts: 3 eventsTraining sessions: 49

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