A much-needed $250 million revamp for Allianz Stadium at Moore Park is being proposed to turn the ageing football venue into a world class, hi-tech sporting facility.
The master plan is unlikely to increase the 44,000 person seating capacity, but rather will focus on infrastructural developments to improve the experience for supporters.
Notable features include Sydney’s largest outdoor screen to sit above the main entrance, upgraded seating, quality food outlets, as well as improved Wi-Fi and expanded entry gates. Moreover, a variety of digital video signage and live fan sites will be incorporate new lighting systems to enable the stadium to adopt the colours of home teams.
Most dramatically, though, is the proposal to stretch a clear membrane over the existing structure in order to create Australia’s first, fully enclosed and naturally-lit stadium.
For fans, the latter is most significant for improving game experience and comfort. Dunedin’s newly enclosed Forsyth Barr Stadium has materially increased fan numbers and revenue – with participants now able to enjoy a game without having to worry about Antarctic winds. While Sydney might not get quite as cold as the New Zealand south, anyone who endured the Waratahs vs. Hurricanes in Round 12 will attest to how cold and uncomfortable Allianz Stadium can get.
Similar to Dunedin’s new stadium, developments to Allianz should see to increase crowd numbers, particularly for families and consequently revenue. With the elements taken out of play it seems logical that crowd numbers will increase.
Heading the initiative is sports minister Stuart Ayres, who will consider the Allianz upgrade while revising the government’s stadium investment strategy, expressed the need to ‘roll out the red carpet’ to more top American franchises. Also on board, NRL chief executive Dave Smith lobbied for $18mil to be included in the state Budget for modernisation efforts.
A similar hi-tech system has been introduced in the SCG’s newest stand, which has already seen a two-fold increase on food and drink when compared to the same site during the Ashes Test in January.
As such is it expected that a rejuvenated Allianz Stadium will yield similar levels of productivity. Mr. Smith went further noting that “Sydney needs a world-class rectangular stadium to attract more spectators and provide a better [fan] experience.”
He added that “better stadiums would drive bigger revenues for NRL clubs, which under different deals, share a cut of ticket and merchandising sales, corporate hospitality and advertising signage.”
On this point, I agree.
“From a financial perspective, quality seating, quality facilities and quality corporate areas” all contribute to stronger position for clubs across a number of codes. The project should as see myriad flow-on effects with the potential to lead to cheaper merchandise and increased investment at grassroots levels.
Rugby League in particular has struggled with decreasing crowd numbers.
NSW Rugby Union appears to be in a similar boat, but there are signs in both codes that the crowds are out there – they just need to be coaxed in. More than 20,000 turned out to the Waratahs’ family day on Sunday indicating that there is still a fan base that will come to live games.
Sydneysiders have long been judged as apathetic fans who rarely turn up to sporting events, and if they do they sit quietly, clap when appropriate, and then leave. Like the NRL, I am hopeful that the new development will increase crowd numbers and great an atmosphere similar to the 2014 A-League Grand Final.
Also, wouldn’t it be fine to sit one something other than those hard plastic chairs for a change!
Developments to Allianz Stadium are part of a master plan to improve all facilities across the Moore Park site, including modernising the SCG and its supporting infrastructure. Current proposals have the project completed by 2020, a start date that the NRL is pushing for.
The master plan has been detailed here by Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust chairman Tony Shepherd to The Roar. Importantly to the fans, the goal is to provide a world class sports and entertainment precinct at Moore Park that “integrates the links to the NSW Government transport strategy; and addresses the circulation, interconnection and operation of the entire Moore Park Precinct.”
The scope of the Master Plan:
1. Sports Central: This project will link the SCG and Allianz Stadium with new connections between Moore Park, Paddington and greater Sydney. Sports Central will create a new headquarters for Cricket in NSW with player development and elite training facilities; sports university campus, administration facilities and a new public plaza connection which includes an ANZAC memorial and Museum of Sport.
2. Allianz Stadium: This project will provide Australia’s leading fully covered all-weather venue for sport and entertainment. The refurbished Allianz Stadium project includes a new roof over the field of play, new entries and public concourses to improve fan experience and crowd flow, new corporate suites, upgraded seating throughout the stadium and encasing the stadium entries with an interactive LED mesh, allowing the venue exterior to be lit in a variety of colour and designs.
3. SCG Master Plan
Bill O’Reilly Stand: The profile of the proposed new O’Reilly Stand will match the Victor Trumper Stand, offering increased venue capacity, increased roof coverage, well positioned corporate facilities and significantly improved patron access, public seating, catering outlets and amenities. This final stage will provide a unique but symmetrical profile of the four new stands at the SCG, each paying homage to the heritage listed Members and Ladies Pavilions.
Churchill and Brewongle Stands: The profile of the proposed new stand will mirror that of the new MA Noble, Don Bradman and Dally Messenger Stand.
This project will provide a new headquarters and Centre of Excellence for the Sydney Swans. The new stand will complement the heritage-listed Members and Ladies Pavilions with 13,100 seats and facilities for Sydney Swans members, cricket supporters, general public, corporate users and sponsors.