The incredibly strange, drawn-out saga regarding the rebuilding and redevelopment of Sydney’s major stadiums is now set to force the NRL Grand Final to shift homes for the next two years, with the Sydney Cricket Ground now emerging as the game’s new home, staving off a poaching raid by Brisbane and Melbourne and keeping the game in NSW for the next few years.
Between the construction of the new Sydney Football Stadium and the scheduled renovation of ANZ Stadium, Sydney is without a dedicated football stadium for the next few years, which left the immediate future of the NRL Grand Final in limbo.
Thanks to a deal struck between the NSW Government and the NRL, however, the game will now take place at the SCG for the next two years while works are completed.
The whole hullaballoo went thusly: With ANZ Stadium and the Sydney Football Stadium out of commission, the NRL Grand Final needed a temporary home. Although the SCG was the (sole remaining) logical choice, the issue of having about 35,000 less seats than ANZ Stadium – and the subsequent reduction in Grand Final gate takings – was a sticking point for the NRL.
To get things over the line, the NSW Government will pony up $12 million to the league in 2020 and 2021 as compensation for the reduced ticket sales. The 2022 Grand Final is scheduled to be held at the new Sydney Football Stadium following its planned opening that year.
That presents as yet another baffling expense the Berejiklian Government is tacking onto the already-insanely expensive stadium redevelopment project.
However, the compensation package ensures the game remains in Sydney, following some speculation that Melbourne and Brisbane were looking to yoink the game out of New South Wales during the construction gap.
The NRL and the NSW Government has a broader, overall agreement that gives the NRL Grand Final a permanent home in NSW until 2042.Image: Getty Images / Jason McCawley