Sorry, Mr FitzSimons, I’m not signing your petition

Paul Nicholls Roar Guru

186 Have your say

    ‘We, the undersigned residents from the more affluent areas of Sydney, protest the government spending money on the riffraff who follow the rectangular footy codes.’

    Okay, the petition instigated by Peter FitzSimons to oppose government expenditure on two new football stadiums is worded more eloquently than that, but that’s how it shapes up to me.

    In fact the wording is very clever. It is difficult to mount a case for the stadiums when the argument against uses emotive issues like schools and hospitals.

    Let’s look at the infrastructure first. Are the two stadiums really in need of replacement?

    Allianz Stadium, once called the Sydney Football Stadium, was one of Australia’s very first all-seater rectangular stadiums, coming online in 1988.

    As a first attempt at a rectangular stadium it wasn’t too bad. The ground has a good atmosphere when full, but the bottom-tier seats have a very shallow rake, so viewing is not optimal.

    The sweeping saddle-like roof is lovely to look at but offers virtually no protection from the elements for most of the crowd. I once experienced a mighty hailstorm during a rugby league semi-final at Allianz that resulted in fans in the lower tier crowding the narrow aisles and subsequently blocking the view of the few people actually undercover.

    Luckily the ground was only half full – I could see it being very unsafe if it were packed.

    There are claims that Allianz is out of date in terms of safety standards. If this is true, then it is hard to see how renovations are going to help.

    Sadly tragedies like Hillsborough and the spectre of terrorism mean the paradigm for stadium safety has changed. If the stadium has to pulled down anyway, I would rather see it rebuilt.

    I would hate to see the site turned into a park for the well-to-do to walk their labradoodles over the ghosts of football matches past.

    (Image: Facebook/Allianz Stadium)

    ANZ Stadium at Homebush was never designed as a football stadium. It was purpose-built as an athletics stadium for the Sydney Olympics and by October 2000 was effectively redundant.

    Pressed into service for football, it is largely unloved. The spectators are just too far away from the action.

    Stadium design has advanced since the 1980s. I believe there is a much greater chance the new stadiums can be designed for a 50 to 75-year life span.

    In Sydney we have the following conundrum: the AFL has two excellent stadiums – the 50,000-capacity Sydney Cricket Ground near the city centre and the 20,000-capacity Spotless Stadium in the city’s west.

    The stadiums are the perfect size for AFL. I don’t begrudge them that. Sydney is a multi-code city after all.

    But what of the traditional codes of football in this city: rugby league, football and of course rugby union? Don’t these codes deserve some respect? Aren’t they part of the cultural fabric of the city and the state of New South Wales?

    Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne have catered for their traditional codes handsomely. Why should Sydney have second-rate stadiums for its main football codes?

    Mr FitzSimons once said that sporting stadiums were the modern-day equivalent of a cathedral, but 20 years later he has altered his view.

    What has changed?

    Sydney is still a global city, isn’t it? It is competing for sporting and cultural events not just with other cities in Australia but with cities throughout Asia-Pacific.

    Top Premier League and European football clubs regularly play preseason in Asia and draw huge crowds. Whether we like it or not, we need top-class facilities to grab some of this market.

    I can see the new stadiums only benefiting Mr Fitzimons’s favoured sport of rugby union as well. The new SFS will be a great showcase for the Waratahs, and the atmosphere at Bledisloe Cup matches at the new rectangular stadium at Homebush will be massive.

    What better way to attract new people to rugby union, football and rugby league. If an improved stadium experience brings in more crowds, then more kids might be inclined to take up their favourite sport, and with more kids playing sport, there will be fewer obese adults in our hospitals.

    So I’m not going to sign the petition. I for one am happy that I’ll able to see rugby union, rugby league and football in a modern, first-class venue worthy of a global city.

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    The Crowd Says (186)

    • December 7th 2017 @ 3:00am
      redden white eye said | December 7th 2017 @ 3:00am | ! Report

      Writing this from Madrid after visiting Real Madrid’s world famous Bernabeu Stadium. What a site! The stadium capacity is approx 81 thousand and has the steepest gradient I have ever seen that brings the action so much closer. Nothing in Sydney compares. Perhaps Suncorp is similar? Ìf so, a suggestion to the designers…..model the stadiums on Bernabeu and watch the crowds come and come again. Yes Sydney does need more schools, hospitals, transport etc. But there appears funds available for alll these thanks to unprecedented stamp duty taxes amongst others. Who knows, if the stadiums are built right there may just be a supplementary income from tourists paying to tour the venue. I say that tongue in cheek knowing the global popularity of Real Madrid and for many visiting Bernabeu it is like a pilgrimage! But hey, if the Dragons were to make the new ANZ stadium their home ground, I’m sure thousands of tourists would make such a visit helping to pay off the stadium in no time!

      • December 7th 2017 @ 7:01am
        Not so super said | December 7th 2017 @ 7:01am | ! Report

        I will build you a ground like that when Sydney has a team as powerful at Real Madrid
        If NSW had so much money why are there so many kids in demountables and bed funding shortages?
        Can’t afford to build a decent road either

        • Roar Rookie

          December 7th 2017 @ 7:32am
          Squidward said | December 7th 2017 @ 7:32am | ! Report

          Cronulla Sharks baby

          • December 7th 2017 @ 10:40am
            Peeeko said | December 7th 2017 @ 10:40am | ! Report

            Close but no cigar

      • December 7th 2017 @ 9:18am
        Chui said | December 7th 2017 @ 9:18am | ! Report

        There can’t be funds available to schools if more and more demountables are being installed in what little green space exists in public schools.

      • December 7th 2017 @ 11:53am
        Peter Phelps said | December 7th 2017 @ 11:53am | ! Report

        There is an easy answer to all this,

        Shift all major games to Melbourne !

        Problem solved, no need to spend a dime, no safety or comfort issues, no need for petitions.

        • Roar Rookie

          December 7th 2017 @ 12:34pm
          Squidward said | December 7th 2017 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

          Bring back Water Rats

          • Roar Guru

            December 7th 2017 @ 12:46pm
            The_Wookie said | December 7th 2017 @ 12:46pm | ! Report


          • December 7th 2017 @ 12:50pm
            jamesb said | December 7th 2017 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

            Prefer Blue Heelers.


      • December 7th 2017 @ 2:49pm
        Wake Up! said | December 7th 2017 @ 2:49pm | ! Report

        NRL averages attendances of 10 to 12k. A-League in Sydney, similar. How can they possibly justify building a 75k and 45k sized stadia? They do not even sell out for the NRL GF or Bledisloe.

        Homebush is perfect the way it is now and Moore Park could easily put in more loos and foodstands.

        Madness replacing them.

        If anything, knock them both over and play the major fixtures at the SCG. The suburban grounds are large enough.

    • December 7th 2017 @ 6:32am
      81paling said | December 7th 2017 @ 6:32am | ! Report

      ANZ stadium needs to be a rectangle cause it’s crap for viewing most events that happen there.

      • Roar Guru

        December 7th 2017 @ 10:43am
        Mango Jack said | December 7th 2017 @ 10:43am | ! Report

        I agree, but the sports that benefit should be paying most, if not all, of the cost. We keep getting told “if you build it they will come”. Fine, all that extra ticket revenue can cover the cost of rebuilding, and we can use the taxpayers money to build local sporting facilities.

        • December 7th 2017 @ 1:52pm
          Mosquito said | December 7th 2017 @ 1:52pm | ! Report

          Let the rectangular codes put in money, promise to play club games there and not move around to the lowest bidder and pay increased rentals and I will agree. The SCG was upgraded for the Cricket World Cup – the RLWC was here and how many big games were played in Sydney? Nil

      • December 7th 2017 @ 2:50pm
        Wake Up! said | December 7th 2017 @ 2:50pm | ! Report

        What are you talking about?When they bring in the stands it IS rectangular. Besides that, Moore Park IS also rectangular and barely gets 15k or more for any sport.

        NRL and soccer should pay for these stadiums from its own pockets if they want it.

    • December 7th 2017 @ 6:55am
      Not so super said | December 7th 2017 @ 6:55am | ! Report

      I can’t believe you tried to use scare tactics like a hail storm
      Typical use of buzz words like global city
      Yeah, people will rush from all over Sydney to the SFS
      Wonder if they will use the same type of plastic in the new seats?
      Parra and homebush – fair enough
      But SFS is just the big end of town fear of missing out
      We know the people with money in Sydney don’t go west of Anzac parade
      They only go south to go to the airport too

      Yeah sydney with poor crowds needs 3 great stadiums
      Check the attendance at Adelaide Melbourne and Perth before making comparisons

      • Roar Rookie

        December 7th 2017 @ 9:43am
        steveng said | December 7th 2017 @ 9:43am | ! Report

        Sydney is a very diversified city and multicultural, rugby league is not the most favourite sport or for that matter sport isn’t the buzz word for many. If you look at most concerts (that are held at these venues) they attract much more people and most of the time these venues are full, it leaves some sporting events looking very poor in attendances.

        • December 7th 2017 @ 10:42am
          Peeeko said | December 7th 2017 @ 10:42am | ! Report

          Do we need an upgrade for these events? The grass was good to stand on when I saw U2 at the Olympic stadium

    • December 7th 2017 @ 6:56am
      Not so super said | December 7th 2017 @ 6:56am | ! Report

      I hope they don’t get any Gail storms at the hundred of football stadiums in the USA that have no roof and have between 60 and 120 thousand !!

      • December 7th 2017 @ 11:12am
        chris said | December 7th 2017 @ 11:12am | ! Report

        Yeah I’m sure they love getting rained on and getting sun stroke from their alfresco stadia.

        • December 7th 2017 @ 11:21am
          Christo the Daddyo said | December 7th 2017 @ 11:21am | ! Report

          Whether they do or don’t is irrelevant to the govt’s main argument though – which is, unless we have absolute state of the art deluxe stadiums, Sydney will miss out on events.
          It’s a laughable argument easily dismissed by pointing to the many poor stadiums around the world that hold all sorts of events perfectly well.

          • December 7th 2017 @ 12:19pm
            chris said | December 7th 2017 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

            We need a rectangular stadium at Homebush. Build that with the most economical model and lets move on. This city’s main codes all require a rectangular stadium to allow proper viewing at the stadium. Why should I pay $100+ or whatever to be 80 metres from the action? And they are the good seats.

            • December 7th 2017 @ 1:35pm
              Christo the Daddyo said | December 7th 2017 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

              “Why should I pay $100+ or whatever to be 80 metres from the action?”
              Simple answer to that – don’t buy the ticket.

              Victorians don’t seem to mind buying seats miles from the playing arena…

              • December 7th 2017 @ 3:17pm
                chris said | December 7th 2017 @ 3:17pm | ! Report

                Victorians watch a game where there are around 40 players on the field!

              • December 7th 2017 @ 3:26pm
                valhalla said | December 7th 2017 @ 3:26pm | ! Report

                what about cricket????

          • December 7th 2017 @ 10:14pm
            GWSINGAPORE said | December 7th 2017 @ 10:14pm | ! Report

            What events?? A soccer world cup? What major rectangle sports aren’t already played in Sydney??

    • December 7th 2017 @ 7:36am
      AR said | December 7th 2017 @ 7:36am | ! Report

      I don’t think many people are against improving SFS.

      But it could have been upgraded for $150M. Instead, the Govt will smash and rebuild at the cost of $800M. The result will simply be a newer version of what is already there. It’s a shocking waste of taxpayer money, especially when the 3 privately owned clubs that play there almost never half fill the thing.

      Ditto ANZ. A shocking waste of $1.3B of taxpayer money. Will people suddenly start loving travelling to Homebush because the rake is steeer?

      And Parra Stadium – whilst coming in at a piddly $350M – is arguably the most curious of the lot. This public spend will benefit 2 privately owned clubs, neither of whom crack more than 20k crowds.

      • December 7th 2017 @ 10:11am
        Cathar Treize said | December 7th 2017 @ 10:11am | ! Report

        Oh diddums AR, rectangular sports actually get a bit of a govt handout like AFL & cricket have for the last decade or so.

        • Roar Guru

          December 7th 2017 @ 12:48pm
          The_Wookie said | December 7th 2017 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

          Theres a vast difference between the amount spent on the SCG, Spotless and Homebush compared to the proposed rebuild of ANZ, the SFS, not to mention Parra, and the money already spent on rectangular stadia in the Sydney area.

          • December 7th 2017 @ 1:55pm
            Mosquito said | December 7th 2017 @ 1:55pm | ! Report

            The AFL put money into all AFL stadiums and subsidises the cricket season with its AFL use.

            • December 7th 2017 @ 5:56pm
              Gurudoright said | December 7th 2017 @ 5:56pm | ! Report

              Where else would you play then

      • December 7th 2017 @ 10:24am
        RandyM said | December 7th 2017 @ 10:24am | ! Report

        Parramatta is a fast growing area region and sydneys second CBD. Economically it’s bigger and more important than Adelaide is.The Eels are one of the bigger sydney NRL clubs and the Wanderers are potentially a giant in Australian sport, both clubs have the potential to avg over 20k.

        But we understand GWS is trying to establish itself in the west, gotta give poor little AFL every leg up it can get and keep the other codes down….

        • December 7th 2017 @ 10:31am
          Cathar Treize said | December 7th 2017 @ 10:31am | ! Report

          yeah if GWS can get $65 million in upgrades to their stadium then why begrudge Parra & Wanders their $350 mil?

          • December 7th 2017 @ 11:16am
            Sydneysider said | December 7th 2017 @ 11:16am | ! Report

            ‘yeah if GWS can get $65 million in upgrades to their stadium then why begrudge Parra & Wanders their $350 mil?”

            Well said CT.

            GWS gets upgrades for their 2,000 Sydney based fans, but not for the biggest clubs in Western Sydney ie. Parra Eels and Wanderers.

            AR doesn’t even live in Sydney so none of this will affect him. Worry about what’s happening in Victoria.

            • December 7th 2017 @ 12:23pm
              chris said | December 7th 2017 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

              Yes but this is what they are like. Sticking their noses in where it doesn’t concern them and telling us what we should have and what we shouldn’t.
              Meanwhile they keep bidding for our sporting events citing their “world class facilities”.

              • Roar Guru

                December 7th 2017 @ 1:43pm
                spruce moose said | December 7th 2017 @ 1:43pm | ! Report

                The “our sporting events” part is the most ridiculous thing you’ve written today. Provincial jingoism in sporting event ownership is such an absurd concept.

                Absurd. I’m actually stunned you follow the socceroos.

          • Roar Guru

            December 7th 2017 @ 12:50pm
            The_Wookie said | December 7th 2017 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

            The entire Showgrounds upgrade was done for $65 million – $20 million of which was paid by the AFL and RAS

            • December 7th 2017 @ 1:56pm
              Mosquito said | December 7th 2017 @ 1:56pm | ! Report

              Wookie you are killing us with facts and the Big bash and WSW (for a while) now play there…

        • December 7th 2017 @ 10:43am
          Peeeko said | December 7th 2017 @ 10:43am | ! Report

          Parramatta isn’t fast frowing, it’s alr day well established and prosperous

          • December 7th 2017 @ 11:16am
            RandyM said | December 7th 2017 @ 11:16am | ! Report

            its growing as a business centre and there is lots of development in the city. Obviously people have been living in Parramatta for 100-150 years.

        • December 7th 2017 @ 11:10am
          Perry Bridge said | December 7th 2017 @ 11:10am | ! Report

          #Cathar Treize

          The GWS stadium is the RAS showgrounds. The RAS are the stadium operators.

          As it was the $65 mill upgrade opened back in 2012 was funded (roughly) as per:
          NSW Govt $45 mill
          AFL $12 mill
          RAS $7 mill

          So – to Cathar Treize – please review your comment – firstly the AFL did NOT get $65 mill. The RAS got about $58 million from both state Govt and the AFL. And secondly the Govt amount was $45 mill and not $65 mill.

          The AFL put in more than the operator; the AFL access the venue but neither own or operate it.

          The AFL generally contributes funding to stadium construction – even though it is neither the owner nor operator. And the venue is a multi purpose venue and the operator the RAS want’s it expanded to 30,000 capacity.

          What we haven’t seen yet is the NRL open their wallets to contribute. Generally if I suggest this I hear others suggest that that wouldn’t be fair because RU and Soccer would benefit from the NRL spend.

          Well – I hope people note how other codes benefit from the AFL spend on venues. Cricket and soccer have not invested in Kardinia Park, not the RAS, nor Etihad (although now the AFL owns this venue). So – when one hears of a potential $350 mill spend on a venue such as Parra stadium – it does raise some questions. (and they may all be answered satisfactorily but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be asked).

          • Roar Rookie

            December 7th 2017 @ 11:52am
            Don said | December 7th 2017 @ 11:52am | ! Report

            To be fair, the AFL (cleverly) inject upfront funding into the construction of stadiums in exchange for lower than commercial rate leases over the long term.

            • December 7th 2017 @ 1:30pm
              Perry Bridge said | December 7th 2017 @ 1:30pm | ! Report


              Not always the case – the AFL monies into Etihad and the MCG didn’t stop them being in many respects the most costly AFL venues for clubs to play at across the nation. The private operators at Etihad were granted cheaper access (‘off peak’) to the rectangle codes even when just in competition with the old Olympic Park.

              The AFL had to flex their muscle to negotiate better deals (after an earlier less attentive AFL head had perhaps hoped that some clubs left to negotiate deals on their own might turn up their toes or at least relocate) and having bought Etihad now – the AFL has greater power again (although unlike the old VFL Park – can’t seriously host a GF).

              • December 7th 2017 @ 1:59pm
                Mosquito said | December 7th 2017 @ 1:59pm | ! Report

                AFL contributing to venues means they will continue to play there unlike Wests who once played at 3 stadiums in a season to try to get best deal.

              • December 7th 2017 @ 10:41pm
                Brainstrust said | December 7th 2017 @ 10:41pm | ! Report

                Etihad stadium the AFL got the clubs it wanted to merge to pay off its mortgage for them, as well as keep them uncompetitive for so many years to favour its other clubs.
                MCG the members section has yearly subscriptions, so having such a large members pays for the stadium and the only cost to the AFL is a theoreticall one that its not getting the membership ticket money..
                SFS has a membership section which the SCG trust uses to get even higher priced subscriptions, and a rip off rental as well.

              • December 8th 2017 @ 4:46pm
                Mosquito said | December 8th 2017 @ 4:46pm | ! Report


                Do you read your stuff after u write it eg

                ” the AFL got the clubs it wanted to merge to pay off its mortgage for them ”

                what clubs merged?

                ” MCG the members section has yearly subscriptions, so having such a large members pays for the stadium and the only cost to the AFL is a theoretical one that its not getting the membership ticket money..


                SFS has a membership section which the SCG trust uses to get even higher priced subscriptions, and a rip off rental as well.


            • Roar Rookie

              December 7th 2017 @ 2:25pm
              Don said | December 7th 2017 @ 2:25pm | ! Report

              G’day Perry,

              Etihad was a completely different arrangement again.
              I’m not being critical of the way the AFL contribute to stadium development and negotiate cheap rent for a set term.
              Same thing happens in other types of developments…

              • December 8th 2017 @ 4:08pm
                Perry Bridge said | December 8th 2017 @ 4:08pm | ! Report


                Alas Etihad wasn’t cheap rent.

                The AFL sold out of Waverley (100% owned) and paid $30mill up front at ‘Docklands’ for the right to buy it out after a 25 year lease.

                The early uptake tenant clubs got the best deals – with the private operator. The AFL wasn’t negotiating other than that there was an agreement of X number of games minimum and a minimum average crowd.

                A club like North Melb in 1999 was an MCG co-tenant. They never opted for Docklands but got fixtured there and forced to adopt a tenancy in a very one side negotiation with the AFL sitting on their hands (the Wayne Jackson era – he was set on getting North out via merge/relocation or just folding).

                So for clubs like North and the Doggies – they could lose money on a home crowd of 25,000 while down the road in Geelong the cats would clear half a mill on the same crowd.

                That wasn’t sustainable and subsequent AFL admins changed their tune on it all. And now the venue is bought out early (which it always was to be which was why the AFL were never going to give it up for the 2022 WC bid back in 2009).

      • Roar Rookie

        December 7th 2017 @ 12:06pm
        Don said | December 7th 2017 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

        Ease up AR.
        The quoted cost just to bring the SFS up to current fire code compliance is $137M. Refer info from the SCG trust. They currently get by with conditional certification based on adding extra staff and safety plans depending on events and expected attendance.

        Even if that cost is somewhat inflated by a self interested body, there’s no way a good renovation to a 30 year old stadium the size of the SFS can be done for $150M.

        Consider for a moment that 2 new big screens, new electronic signage and stadium wifi upgrades recently completed came at a cost of $20M.
        Your $150M would be chewed up after about a third of the stadium was renovated.

        And the end result would likely be a compromised hodgepodge still unable to realise maximum value from premium ticket sales and corporates.

        • December 7th 2017 @ 11:01pm
          Brainstrust said | December 7th 2017 @ 11:01pm | ! Report

          And the more expensive upgrades before that why did they do that as well when it was supposedly so far past it.
          As far as I see how there can be a problem with the SFS versus every other stadium is a complete mystery to me. Its got a lot of exits, and easy access to them, The major area of the stadium is concrete, maybe the rooms and corporate boxes have combustible materials, they are only a small portion of the stadium.
          Forget premium ticket sales and corporates, they don’t come to regular season games, there is plenty of space there, they have a surplus of these facilities. Then number of premium events otherwise at the SFS is very small.

    • December 7th 2017 @ 7:57am
      Jack said | December 7th 2017 @ 7:57am | ! Report

      Do you see the folly in demolishing a 17 year old stadium? What, are we going to demolish the new one after 17 years as well? What a complete waste of money and energy.

      Our area has been waiting for a new hospital that was promised by Barry O’Farrell before he was PM, when he was PM, after he was PM (by Baird and Gladys), yet they’ve barely turned a sod. Of course, its not in Sydney so its not important, right?

      • December 7th 2017 @ 9:15am
        jameswm said | December 7th 2017 @ 9:15am | ! Report

        Barry O’Farrell was Prime Minister?

        I must have blinked and missed it.

        • December 7th 2017 @ 9:19am
          Chui said | December 7th 2017 @ 9:19am | ! Report

          Too much Grange?

        • December 7th 2017 @ 11:25am
          valhalla said | December 7th 2017 @ 11:25am | ! Report

          given that sydney folk like to see themselves as the centre of the universe (certainly the be all and end all of australian life) – in his reality this false claim may not be that far off the mark

        • December 7th 2017 @ 10:57pm
          Jarijari said | December 7th 2017 @ 10:57pm | ! Report

          PreMier I think he means

      • December 7th 2017 @ 9:26am
        jamesb said | December 7th 2017 @ 9:26am | ! Report

        Is Gladys our current Prime Minister?

        • December 7th 2017 @ 11:22am
          Christo the Daddyo said | December 7th 2017 @ 11:22am | ! Report

          The way she’s going she won’t even be Premier after the next election…

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