The NSW government wants to spend a staggering $2 billion to replace two football stadiums

Photo: Sarah Kimmorley.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has confirmed Sydney’s worst kept secret — that the government plans to spend $2 billion on demolishing and rebuilding the 18-year-old Sydney Olympic Stadium at Homebush, and the Sydney Football Stadium at Moore Park in the city’s east.

The premier described the new designs as “colosseum-inspired” and an investment in the tourism industry.

The plan will see Allianz Stadium at Moore Park, designed by Philip Cox and opened in 1988, torn down and rebuilt over three years at an estimated cost of $705 million. Construction of the new 45,000-seat stadium will mean the 2020 NRL grand final will be held at the SCG.

The plan overturns former premier Mike Baird’s April 2016 announcement that the stadium would receive lower cost upgrades instead and is a major victory for the SCG Trust.

A further $1.25 billion will be spend on knocking down and rebuilding the Sydney Olympic Stadium, which only opened in 1999, reducing its capacity from 80,000 to 75,000-seats in a rectangular configuration for league, union and soccer.

Construction is set to begin in 2019 for an opening in late 2022.

The NRL grand final will be held at Allianz Stadium in 2021 and 2022 while construction is underway.

The estimated cost is nearly four times more than the $350 million ANZ Stadium’s owners were seeking in 2014 for a retractable roof and movable seating to convert the ground to rectangular games while retaining the flexibility to host cricket and AFL.

Sport Minister Stuart Ayres said the government has also signed up the NRL to host the grand finals in Sydney for the next 25 years.

“We have a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to return NSW to its rightful position as the nation’s premier destination for sport and entertainment events,” he said.

“When we are finished our stadiums will be the envy of the world.”

Premier Berejiklian said the expenditure was necessary so the city could “compete globally” to attract national and international events such as the FIFA Women’s World Cup and Rugby World Cup.

Australia last hosted the Rugby World Cup in 2003, when 82,957 were at Sydney Olympic Stadium to see the Wallabies lose to England.

“We want the world’s biggest sporting clubs and artists to choose NSW as their preferred destination to showcase their events,” she said.

“Fans will be closer to the action than ever before, with steep seating creating a colosseum-inspired wall of sound and colour, enhanced with the world’s most advanced technology.”

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover More said the council will fight the state government over the plans for Moore Park, pointing to the $38 million Tibby Cotter bridge was an example of the government wasting taxpayer funds on unnecessary projects on the site.

“For too long governments have treated Moore Park as a cash cow, a car park, or vacant land for development – it’s time they honour its original purpose as a park set aside for the use and benefit of Sydneysiders now and into the future,” she said.

“Twenty million people visit the Centennial and Moore Parklands annually, while just two million attend Allianz stadium and the SCG. The needs of the majority must be prioritised in the use and planning of Moore Park.”

Labor leader Luke Foley said the Moore Park plan was “a white elephant” and waste of money, but supports the Olympic stadium rebuild.

“They will spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a white elephant, on a stadium that won’t host grand finals, State of Origins, Bledisloe Cups or the biggest Socceroos qualifiers.”