Premier Mike Baird’s inner city indoor arena could be scrapped like Moore Park stadium

by admin on July 13th, 2018

filed under 南京夜网

The former Sydney Entertainment Centre was once home to the Sydney Kings, who may never return to the inner city. Photo: Peter Rae Premier Mike Baird and Sports Minister Stuart Ayres when they announced the $1.6 billion stadium plan last September, elements of which continue to change. Photo: Nick Moir
Nanjing Night Net

New Sydney Kings coach Andrew Gaze.

A second pillar of Premier Mike Baird and Sports Minister Stuart Ayres’ $1.6 billion stadium plan is at risk of falling over should the government fail to find sports to play in a new indoor arena for the inner city.

The Premier has already backtracked on a proposal to build a new football stadium at Moore Park, after Sydney’s rugby league teams revolted against the plan.

But another element of the stadium strategy for Sydney, announced last September, was to build a new indoor arena in the inner city to replace the Entertainment Centre.

However a main candidate to play in that arena, the Sydney Kings basketball team, has since been bought by the owner of Olympic Park’s Qudos Bank Arena, which used to be Allphones Arena.

When Mr Baird and Mr Ayres first announced the overall stadium strategy, they committed to new infrastructure that included a new stadium at Parramatta, a new stadium at Moore Park and “a new indoor arena near the CBD”.

But those venues were to be contingent on business cases and securing commitments from sports teams and codes to play in them.

The determination of a number of Sydney NRL clubs to play a majority of their home games at Olympic Park ultimately scuppered the proposal to replace Allianz Stadium at Moore Park.

The indoor inner city arena may yet get built, but a similar geographic tension is already at play.

Mr Baird and Mr Ayres’ policy was based on a report prepared by former Liberal leader John Brogden, which said the demolition of the Entertainment Centre left the inner city without a venue for “basketball or other sports such as indoor tennis”.

But the Sydney Kings were purchased by venue management company AEG Ogden, which runs Qudos Bank Arena.

Harvey Lister, AEG Ogden’s chairman, said Sydney Kings’ ticket sales would be “significantly higher” at Olympic Park than they were in Haymarket.

“There is no doubt to us that having a sports team based at the centre of where people live in the greater Sydney region is working already,” said Mr Lister, who has signed basketball icon Andrew Gaze to coach the team. Mr Lister said the Kings’ home would be Olympic Park.

The NSW Swifts netball team, meanwhile, are also pushing to play more games in Qudos Bank Arena after regularly selling out games at Sydney Olympic Park Sports centre. Tennis authorities have also signalled enthusiasm for venue upgrades around Olympic Park. And it is understood that AEG Ogden’s purchase agreement with the NBL prohibits the creation of another NBL team in the city for at least a decade.

The government’s greyhound racing ban has prompted speculation a planned arena could be built on or near the existing track at Wentworth Park. Mr Baird has said there will be no high rise or residential at the site and it would remain in community use.

A spokeswoman for Mr Ayres said work on a “feasibility study” for the indoor arena would start next month.

“Before any decisions are made on locations, we will await on the results of that feasibility study,” she said.

AEG Ogden is also contracted to manage the International Convention Centre at Darling Harbour, due for completion this year. The company plans to play occasional Sydney Kings games at that venue, which can also be used to host indoor tennis fixtures in between convention events.

Plans went on public display last week for a new 30,000-seat stadium at Parramatta, to be completed by 2019.

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