State agencies may compensate the NSW Waratahs rugby team about $17 million while a new stadium at Moore Park is built, according to Labor leader Luke Foley.
Mr Foley said on Monday he had obtained details of the contract between the Super Rugby side and the Sydney Cricket & Sports Ground Trust.
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“This is an outrageous squandering of public funds,” Mr Foley said.
“A secret contract that the government’s kept hidden between the SCG Trust, and one of the professional sporting clubs that plays at the Allianz Stadium, the Waratahs, that indicates to us that compensation will be payable to the tune of around $17 million over three seasons,” he said.
A spokesman for the SCG Trust, however, refuted Mr Foley’s claims, saying he was referring to a section of a contract irrelevant to the current situation.
“Matches will be relocated to the SCG which boasts superior facilities and more public seats than Allianz Stadium,” the spokesman said.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced last month the government would spend $2 billion building new stadiums at Moore Park and Olympic Park to replace Allianz and ANZ Stadiums.
The decision reversed the position of former premier Mike Baird, who pushed off funding for a Moore Park stadium, and had committed only to a major upgrade at Olympic Park.
On top of funds already spent buying back ANZ Stadium from its private holders, and building a new stadium at Parramatta, Ms Berejiklian’s stadium policies are worth more than $2.5 billion.
But the government has not said how much it would compensate professional sporting teams during the period in which new stadiums were under construction. Sports Minister Stuart Ayres has declined to rule out compensation when questioned by the Herald.
Allianz Stadium is due to be knocked down next year. Photo: Peter Rae
It is understood the contract obtained by Mr Foley provides for compensation to be paid to the Waratahs if seating capacity is reduced below 25,000 during a period in Allianz Stadium is rebuilt or developed. The compensation is calculated according to the average ticket price.
Eighteen months ago, Waratahs chairman Roger Davis estimated that a compensation bill for the Waratahs, NRL side Sydney Roosters and the A-League’s Sydney FC could be between $100 and $150 million if they were displaced while a new stadium at Moore Park was built.
At the time, the three clubs fiercely resisted construction of a new stadium on the site of Allianz at Moore Park. But last month the clubs declared their support for the government’s stadium plans. They have not said what they have been promised, if anything, in return for that support.
Mr Foley has been campaigning against the stadium spending, saying the money would be better spent on schools and hospitals. A petition on change.org calling on Ms Berejiklian to reconsider the stadium spending had more than 80,000 signatures on Monday afternoon.
“This is extraordinary that the professional sporting clubs will receive compensation because the government is building them a new 45,000-seat spanking new stadium,” Mr Foley said.
“The Premier has to listen. Her sports minister will never listen, he’s just the errand boy of the unelected powerbrokers of the SCG Trust,” he said.
The SCG Trust spokesman said the clause referred to by Mr Foley “would only be triggered if the NSW Waratahs sold more public seats at the SCG than there are at Allianz Stadium – an impossibility.
“Our sports partners may also explore other opportunities in the stadium network, including Western Sydney Stadium and ANZ Stadium during the construction phase,” the spokesman said.