The NSW government has staved off interest from Queensland, Western Australia, Victoria and New Zealand to host the NRL grand final.
NRL boss Todd Greenberg admits the SCG isn’t the greatest place to experience rugby league, but won’t apologise for ultimately making a deal that sees the grand final stay in Sydney through until 2046.
The NRL announced on Wednesday it had struck an agreement with the NSW government that ensures its decider will be at the SCG for the next two years.
Allianz Stadium will host the 2022 decider before the league’s showpiece event heads back to a renovated ANZ Stadium the following season.
Another 25-year deal with the state government begins in 2022.
The development comes despite fierce criticism of the NRL staging games at the SCG this past season while the Moore Park venue undergoes its reconstruction.
“And I understand that. Part of me agrees with that, that it’s not the greatest experience,” Greenberg said of the SCG, which often gets complaints because of the poor views when it hosts sports played on a rectangular field.
But he said the decision was based on short-term pain, which reportedly includes a $15 million payment from the NSW government to compensate the NRL for hosting the grand final at smaller capacity stadiums for three years.
“Effectively it’s long-term thinking for our fans. What that means is we’ll have some short-term pain to get through during the next few years,” Greenberg said.
“But what the ultimate prize is, is $2 billion of infrastructure development, three brand-new stadiums in Sydney.”
The NRL had grown frustrated with the state government after a delay in the start of the refurbishment of ANZ Stadium until after next year’s State of Origin series.
The postponement meant a breach in the governing body’s memorandum of understanding with the NSW government as part of its stadia plan.
As a result, Queensland, Melbourne, Western Australia and New Zealand governments put their hands up to host the grand final.
Greenberg sympathised with Queensland fans dreaming of attending a decider at Suncorp Stadium in two years time.
“I’ve spoken directly to Queensland minister Kate Jones today to explain to her our decision-making,” Greenberg said.
“And I can understand that we will have some unhappy Queensland-based fans.
“What I’d say is this: When you deal with a government who’s spending effectively $2 billion, what goes with that is a promise of your content.”
Jones wasn’t pleased with the decision, telling reporters in Brisbane she understood it came down to the compensation package from the NSW Government.
“I think it’s a kick in the guts. Right now I feel like a Raiders fan from the grand final,” Jones said.
“We believe we have the best NRL stadium in the world. I think it would have been great for the game.”
Greenberg insisted that the deal covered any shortfall the league would have in hosting their grand final at an SCG venue that holds a capacity of 46,000.
Suncorp Stadium holds a maximum 52,500, while the MCG is over 100,024.
“The game’s not going to go backwards commercially. That was the point that I made very strongly to NSW government,” Greenberg said.
“We’ve transacted a deal that provides with the short-term outcomes that the game needed to face, but protects the long-term interests, particularly here in Sydney, and ensures that all that money will be spent on stadiums.”