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>> News

Wanderers investigate Belmore as interim home

By Michael Chammas

August 20, 2015 - Sydney Morning Herald

With Pirtek Stadium poised to be demolished for a $300 million, 30,000-seat stadium, the Western Sydney Wanderers have begun exploring the possibility of moving games to Belmore Sportsground during construction.

The Wanderers recently made inquiries with NRL club Canterbury about playing their FFA Cup game against the Brisbane Roar on August 11 at the spiritual home of the Bulldogs, however, they instead opted to play the match at Penrith's Pepper Stadium.

But with the state government on the verge of announcing their stadia strategy, which is believed to include plans to knock down and rebuild Pirtek Stadium, the Wanderers are once again looking at Belmore as a temporary base.

The Eels, who have a lucrative contract to play a minimum of two games a year at ANZ Stadium, are likely to relocate to Sydney Olympic if construction coincides with the NRL season. However, the Wanderers are weighing up their options.

Those include the Olympic stadium (83,500 capacity), Campbelltown Sportsground (21,000), Pepper Stadium (22,000) and Belmore Sportsground (20,000).

If the new stadium at Parramatta gets the green light on the existing site as early as 2016, it's understood the Wanderers will ask the club's fans to vote on where they would like to see matches played.

The Wanderers took that approach for the Asian Champions League final against Al Hilal last year, with the club's supporters voting to host the final at Pirtek Stadium instead of the much larger ANZ Stadium.

The FFA is keen for the Wanderers and Sydney FC to play one of their three Sydney derbies each year at ANZ Stadium but haven't managed to work it into the upcoming season.

However, Fairfax Media understands the FFA and ANZ Stadium remain in negotiations about the possibility of playing one derby game in Homebush, which would likely eclipse the A-League crowd record of 54,436 at the 2006-07 grand final between Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United at Etihad Stadium. The Wanderers have been reluctant to play at ANZ Stadium because they have been pushing strongly, along with the Parramatta Eels, for an upgrade or redevelopment of Pirtek Stadium.

The Wanderers have played one A-League match at Pepper Stadium, attracting a crowd of 12,663 for their first win of last season against the Wellington Phoenix in 35 degree heat in February.

Their second match at Penrith also produced a win when the Wanderers moved into the final 16 of the FFA Cup with a 1-0 win against the Brisbane Roar this month.

Football club Sydney Olympic still use Belmore Sportsground as their home base for the NSW Premier League competition, with a small office on site.

However, the stadium has been transformed into Canterbury headquarters with the club's offices and training facilities now all at the same venue.

The Bulldogs returned to Belmore for the first time since 1998 for two matches this year.

 


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