Stadia funding u-turn would wreak 'massive damage': Grant

ARLC chairman John Grant claims threats to rescind the multi-billion injections into stadia rebuilds would cause "massive damage" and result in sporting investment leaving the harbour city.

The NSW Government has come under fire for committing $2.5 billion towards the knockdown and rebuilding of Allianz and ANZ stadiums. The opposition has slammed the move and vowed to scale back the investment if voted into office.

A petition on calling for NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to overturn the decision had gained almost 135,000 signatures at the time of writing.

The NRL is the big winner in the investment into the Moore Park and Homebush Bay precincts. The governing body has granted NSW 25 years of grand finals in return for the funding, thwarting Queensland's attempts to pinch the marquee event.

"It's a brave decision, it's great for rugby league and I think it's the right decision," Grant said.

"There are going to be people with different points of view and that's what we're seeing.

"There are competing forces for the allocation of funds. In this particular situation, the government has decided this is the way it will use its funds and we think it's a really good investment.

"You can debate how funds are going to be allocated, but at the end of the day you're trying to achieve multiple objectives in allocating the appropriate funding for education, the right funding for schools and health, etc and getting the appropriate funds to attract investment.

"I think the balance is right, irrespective of the benefit to rugby league.

"The government is to be commended for making the right broad-based decision."

The money spent on the rebuild of Sydney's stadia network is more than half the entire cost of venue construction for the 2000 Olympics. Labor leader Luke Foley has described the $2.5 billion spent on the city's stadia infrastructure as "obscene" and believes much of the money could be better spent on schools and hospitals. If Labor wins power, he will redirect a large chunk of the funding into those areas.

"If that were to happen, it would cause massive damage to the goodwill that's been created by people who look at the city and see what people in the state are doing," Grant said.

"That would be a very big decision for an opposition that got into government to make. It's convenient for them with a political view now. The reality of damaging the goodwill created by people who want to invest in this city, that's a big play.

"It's a much bigger play than just getting football fields for rugby league elite competitions to be played on.

"One of the things that's in the minds of decision makers for the government is to attain Sydney's No.1 position as a destination and to attract investment. The secret to everyone being better off is to create investment.

"These to me are an investment, getting money coming into the city. That's a very big deal that manifests in a lot of ways. We'll all be better off if we can attract that.

"To not make this decision is quite significant because you would lose a lot of the ability to attract long-term investment."

The NRL grand final will again be up for grabs if the ANZ and Allianz stadiums don't get the funding required to rebuild them from scratch.

"Ultimately, the job of the Australian Rugby League Commission and the NRL is to maximise revenues to the game," Grant said.

"We need to maximise distributions to stakeholders. We will play within the environment that we're given and if we're given an environment where this game and other rectangular sports have to stay with current stadia which don't stack up, we'll have to look at our options. No doubt about that at all."

This story Stadia funding u-turn would wreak 'massive damage': Grant first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.