Is WIN Stadium up for sale?
Gareth Ward, the Illawarra's sole government minister, says no.
But Labor MP Paul Scully figures where there's smoke, there could very well be fire.
Read more: Man pulled knife after racial abuse
On Sunday, Mr Scully tweeted a Sydney newspaper's rumour that a recommendation was coming that the bulldozers should knock down the stadium and make a killing selling the beachfront real estate.
Mr Scully called on Sports Minister Geoff Lee to reveal his plans for the stadium.
The tweet was enough to see Kiama MP Mr Ward come out firing.
"This is straight out of the Paul Scully playbook of propaganda," Mr Ward said.
"It's not true, it's not happening. I'm sick and tired of having to respond to absolute nonsense claims in the media because they have no policy, they have nothing to add."
Mr Ward admitted the grandstands were rusting but that was to be expected.
"It shouldn't be a shock to anybody that when you build a large steel structure next to a large body of salt water, you might have rust issues occasionally," he said, adding the government was upgrading the northern stand.
Wollongong MP Mr Scully said the rumours of the "for sale" sign going up at WIN Stadium weren't surprising because the government "has a history of selling things".
He pointed out the government's lease of Port Kembla, the sale of Pillar and the state office block in Crown Street and offloading social housing properties as evidence of this.
"It's a government with a track record of privatisation, where they usually start with a rumour and end with a sold sticker on the front," Mr Scully said.
He questioned why it was Mr Ward, who "has no responsibility for the Illawarra" or the stadium, that came out swinging.
"I'll only believe it when Minister Lee is able to not only say what the ownership structure might be in the future of the entertainment centre and the stadium but also what his vision is for the future of those assets," he said.
"A year ago he said that the entertainment centre was a priority for him and we've seen nothing. In 2018 the government started a process of stakeholder consulting and refuses to release the report that's been sitting on the minister's desk since February 2020."
The Mercury contacted Mr Lee and asked whether the government planned to sell WIN Stadium or if it had ever been considered.
He did not answer either question.
His office sent the following statement, from a Venues NSW spokesperson.
"There are no significant issues at WIN Stadium and it is safe and fit for purpose.
"Venues NSW continues to invest in capital works, safety, security and customer service-focused improvements at WIN Stadium. This included the replacement of the rust-affected northern grandstand roof, which was completed in 2019.
"Venues NSW is also part of the multi-agency steering committee, chaired by Wollongong City Council, which is working collaboratively to promote use of the stadium and entertainment centre to support the Illawarra visitor economy, job growth and other benefits for the region."
We depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.
Subscribe to our newsletters