Sydney is very fortunate in terms of public funding for football stadiums

The Aussies, the British and the Americans host some of the world’s largest football leagues with different codes in terms of average attendance, among the most enthusiastic sports fans in the world, the population of this nation usually frown on building expensive stadiums if they are rarely used.

Despite the amount of public funding for new and upgraded stadiums, efficiency is important in this country, even though it varies from city to city and country to country.

Although most major English football teams play only on their own ground, the Premier League hosts near-capacity crowds as the world’s second most participating football league, with some major Australian and US cities sharing stadiums from the same or different football. Code

Nevertheless, of all the major Australian, US and British cities with world-class stadiums, Sydney is one of the few that constantly demands public funding to build or upgrade football stadiums that do not meet the needs of larger crowds. Other major cities.

Some Sydneysiders promote the mantra ‘Build stadiums and people will come’, or we can’t be left out if we want to compete with other Australian cities in attracting big events.

But Sydney has already spent billions of dollars on stadiums since the late 1980’s, which, despite the construction of three modern stadiums, have barely raised the average crowd: Sydney Football Stadium (1988), Olympic Stadium (1999) and the renovated Paramatman Stadium (2019).

Paramatman's new Banquest Stadium.

(Photo by Matt Blyth / Getty Images)

According to the main football code of the Sydney Rugby League, where Sydney’s 12 teams averaged 59,000 per week for six home games in 1979, the 2019 weekly average (before COVID) rose to just 60,561 (with the remaining nine teams per week). ).

In other words, the construction of three expensive stadiums has increased Sydney’s weekly home rugby league crowd average from 9871 in 1979 to 13,458 in 2019.

While the new Paramatman Stadium averaged 18,665 for 12 home matches in 2019 (the former 20,000-seat stadium broke the previous record of 16,600 in 2001), the Olympic Stadium averaged 13,212 for 20 matches, and cricket was hardly ground (SCG2) 15,06 compared to 2019. , Brookwell 11,216 (ten), Campbelltown 12,038 (three), Cronula 12,224 (12), Kogarah 9751 (five), Leachhard 14,222 (three), Penrith 12,1222 (three), Penrith (12,10,10) five).

In contrast, the remaining ten Victorian teams in the Australian Football League (AFL) crowded an average of 41,619 people in 2019 for five weekly matches at Melbourne Cricket Ground (53,694), Ducklands (31,875) and Cardinia Park (27,811). The 1979 average for the former Victorian Football League, with six weekly matches, surpassed 25,535.

Comparing 1979 and 2019 weekly overall data, Melbourne and Geelong average weekend attendance increased from 153,210 in 1979 to 208,095 in 2019, supporting the construction and / or upgrading of three major Victorian AFL stadiums.

Undoubtedly, there is a need for better facilities to attract spectators to different football codes in this era when any sport and activity competes for entertainment dollars, as mentioned Guardian On 13 April 2022 when it pointed to the 8828 average of the 2019 crowd in the English Super League hit in 2022 due to the renovation of the new stadium and / or the old field.

For Sydney, however, capacity increases and upgrades need to be understood and adapted to growing public demand, as in the case of England where many English football clubs have built new grounds or improved facilities in recent decades.

Empty NRL stadium

(Photo by Cameron Spencer / Getty Images)

Outside of the big new stadiums and upgrades for the Premier League giants in London, Manchester and Liverpool, which now have a capacity of 50,000 or more and were mostly full in the 2018-19 season before the Covid disaster, even smaller English clubs will take into account public demand before considering new stadiums. Day.

For example, Leicester City’s new stadium was built from 2002 (32,200) only after their promotion to the Premier League in 1994-95 when their previous ground (Philbert Street since 1891) was regularly sold out in the late 1990’s (21,500 capacity).

With a new stadium (current capacity 49,000) since 1997, Sunderland still has a crowd of 31,000 when it plays in the third tier of England in the 2021-22 season.

But despite Sydney already having adequate depth of reasonable stadiums, Sydney continues to push for more public funding, which could easily fill their crowds.

Olympic Stadium (83,000) has gained an average of over 20,000 NRL home-and-away crowds three times since 2005 (2012 to 2014).

The historic SCG (48,000) easily fills in for the AFL’s Sydney Swans, who had an average crowd of 31,000 in 2019.

Second Sydney AFL club Greater Western Sydney has a modern showground stadium (24,000), but after averaging 12,400 in 2019, they averaged less than 6,000 for their three home matches in 2022.

The Sydney rosters averaged just 15,800 in 2018, with its 45,000 capacity at the previous Sydney football stadium, fortunately anyone thinks the new version (42,000) from 2023 will achieve a much higher average home crowd.

Penrith, with 19,800 so far on the record home crowd track in 2022, also expects a new $ 300 million stadium (25,000-30,000) to increase crowds, although the team has averaged more than 15,000 for just three home games since their inception in 1967 ( 2003-2005).

A Panthers fan shows his frustration

(Photo by Jason McCully / Getty Images)

Sydney is really lucky for its stadiums – probably the luckiest among Australian, British and American cities.

As it stands, the new stadiums for the Paramatman Iles and the Sydney Rooster have provided great facilities for other football teams that receive much smaller crowns, mostly from rugby union NSW Waratah and football teams Western Sydney and Sydney FC.

To that end, any upgrades to existing stadiums, along with increasingly female versions of such sports, could help Sydney’s many rectangular football codes meet the many demands of football, rugby league and rugby union.

But the squabble over public funding continues on a scale that suggests that Sydney is a great world city for the football crowd, with the exception of a few rugby leagues each year and huge crowds for the big football and rugby union internationals. .

The NRL wants to spend millions on suburban NRL grounds, while Football Australia and Rugby Union officials want the Olympic Stadium to be improved with better seating and / or a roof to ensure finals of major sporting events such as the Rugby World Cup.

But does a light Sydney roof need to be on odd days when a football match is facing heavy rain?

Does Sydney really need new stadiums for some NRL clubs where medium cost can easily upgrade existing good stadiums to increase the NRL’s local support thinking, then it can be done locally or at a distance where many can easily go?

The South could and could play at the new Sydney football stadium.

Cock fan

(Photo by Mark Metcalfe / Getty Images)

St. George Elwara and Cronulla have decent home grounds with a capacity of about 20,000.

Instead of getting a brand new stadium in Canterbury, Liverpool, the possibility of a 25,000-seat stadium may be able to upgrade Belmore to get a decent stadium, in line with the 2020 talks.

The same will be true of Manley’s Brookwell, which will probably require a significant upgrade.

The odd big games that could claim more crowds could be moved to Sydney’s four big stadiums that could host crowds of 30,000 to 82,500 people in the case of the odd rugby code match in England that made the crowd at a big club called Old Trafford, Wembley. And Twickenham.

Ultimately, NRL clubs in Sydney need to build community support if they want to get really large regular gatherings that could justify greater capacity.

For the West Tigers, with their $ 6 million decade-long contract to play at the Olympic Stadium after the 2023 season, they have recently indicated their preference for playing their home games at Leichheart and Campbelltown, their spiritual home to establish themselves permanently in the suburbs. And establish a clear identity.

While it has been noted that the Leichhardt Oval can accommodate only 400 corporate guests compared to the 2500 for the relatively new Paramatman Stadium, the West Tigers have made a profit of about $ 3 million in the last two years, which has eased the pressure to chase the deal. Large stadiums that provide financial incentives.

Playing a game in Tamworth every year remains an option for the Tigers as they receive financial and game-day support from the region.

But it remains to be seen how long such a large amount of public finance can be thrown into a football stadium due to Sydney’s prolonged low crowds.

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