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Dogs go back to Belmore during rebuild of stadiums: League

By Adrian Proszenko

24 November 2017 - Sydney Morning Herald

Canterbury will take up to six games back to their spiritual home of  Belmore  while ANZ Stadium is transformed into a state-of-the-art rectangular venue.

The NSW government will officially announce on Friday that Sydney's two major venues, ANZ and Allianz stadiums, will be knocked down and rebuilt at a cost of $2 billion. That figure excludes the money already allocated to rebuild Parramatta Stadium, bringing the total spend to $2.3 billion.

State cabinet signed off on the ANZ and Allianz reconstructions yesterday, ending years of politicking and speculation over stadia investment. Work will begin on Allianz in 2018 and ANZ the following year. The developments are a win for the Sydney sporting public, but will have effects for clubs displaced during the construction periods.

One of ANZ Stadium's main tenants, Canterbury, are already making contingency plans. The Bulldogs already take two home matches to  Belmore  but are planning to boost that figure to six while the Homebush Bay precinct is under construction.

"The Bulldogs have got to look at what's in the best interest of their fans and members and if we can improve the amenities and facilities a bit more at  Belmore , I can't see why the board wouldn't entertain the idea of taking half a dozen games there," said Bulldogs chairman Ray Dib.

"We could take some games to the new Parramatta Stadium and also keep some games up our sleeve to take interstate.

"The reception at  Belmore  has been positive. It's been a shame that we've had bad weather and bad timing, with Thursday night games the last couple of years. It would be a ... sign of appreciation to our fans to be able to take more games back to  Belmore."

The Bulldogs will be one of several teams looking to take games to Parramatta while the other two major stadiums are off line. When not playing at Campbelltown or Leichhardt Oval - they have also locked in a "home" game at Tamworth next year - Wests Tigers will venture to the Eels' new home  ground . Canterbury will do likewise, while South Sydney fans will also have to make the trek from their Homebush base for some of the games they host.

The Roosters already take some matches to Gosford and may take more, but their temporary home base will likely be the Sydney Cricket  Ground  until Allianz is finished. A-League side Sydney FC and the Waratahs will look to host some matches at the SCG.

The NSW government's financial commitment will ensure the NRL grand final remains in Sydney long-term, but there will be issues regarding its placement during construction.

The SCG is likely to host at least one grand final during that period, marking the first time it has happened since the 1987 Manly-Canberra decider.

Sydney's sporting stadiums have been neglected for decades, while interstate rivals have stolen sporting events after upgrading their facilities. NSW will now be able to compete for premium content when Allianz is rebuilt with a capacity of 45,000 and ANZ about 75,000.

Former premier Mike Baird had only allocated $1.6 billion of funding to the three major projects, but the NSW government has now committed $2.3 billion.

"It's great for the state, it's a bold and aggressive move," Tigers chief executive Justin Pascoe said. "It's a great result to have three brand new stadiums of three different sizes."


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