NSW Labor rejects $2b footy stadiums pork

By Leith van Onselen

I’ve noted previously how the NSW State Government has hit ‘peak stupid’ in deciding to spend $2 billion to demolish and rebuild the Olympic Stadium and the Sydney Football Stadium, both of which are underutilised and whose redevelopment would deliver zero net economic benefits for the state, according to analysis by hired gun KPMG.

To make matters even worse, the stadiums rebuild is to be funded by proceeds from selling-off the lease the state’s monopoly land titles registry – a move that will very likely see end-users being gouged by the new monopoly owners, with the NSW State Government also losing a reliable income stream.

Today, the NSW Labor leader, Michael Daley, flat out rejected spending a cent of taxpayer dollars rebuilding these stadiums, instead pledging to spend the proceeds on social infrastructure like schools and hospitals. From The SMH:

“I’m saying very clearly to the SCG Trust today: do not sign contracts for the demolition of this stadium. Do not demolish this stadium. If you do, you will not get a single cent of free public money from me if I am elected premier in March of next year,” Mr Daley said…

The people of NSW have a very clear choice now: if you want billions of dollars spent knocking down and rebuilding perfectly good stadiums, vote for the Liberals and Nationals,” he said.

“If you want billions of dollars put into schools and hospitals, vote for me.”

This is good policy from Labor.

When I first discussed the stadium fiasco, I labelled it a textbook example of the broken window fallacy in economics: akin to digging holes just to fill them up again. While the projects might create jobs and increase GDP directly, they will cost taxpayers a huge sum, won’t boost productivity, and will do nothing to raise living standards.

With Sydney suffering from chronic congestion and infrastructure bottlenecks, hosing $2 billion on dud projects like this makes as much sense as punching yourself in the face.

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Leith van Onselen


  1. Nice to know that while our kids are sweltering in tiny, tin, demount-able classrooms each and every day, the sports stars and spectators will enjoy first class facilities for a few hours a week.

    • And NSW LNP ex-MPs will enjoy plush board seats on the companies that build and run these new stadiums.

      The broken window fallacy ignores that while it is bad for society, it is very good for window repairers, and they will lobby politicians to break windows.

    • Strange EconomicsMEMBER

      Let Alan Jones and the less than 10 000 visitors to Allianz go to a brand new stadium in the Centre of Sydney, next to a direct rail stop – (and a parking station for the luxury SUV)
      the brand new Parramatta stadium.
      Can you hear the sputtering on the radio…

      This is from the Tony Shepherd (with Alan Jones) on the SCG Trust – the Tony Shepherd who did the Abbot Audit report, to remove welfare to the undeserving. However for the stadium – 1 billion of corporate welfare – no problem.

      Or perhaps the private industry of football could do without corporate welfare and build it themselves. They did recently get a 1 billion League TV deal…

  2. If my living standards are going to be eroded due to mass immigration then at least give me a new Allianz stadium.

    Leith – you must not have been to the current SFS / Allianz – it is a crappy stadium. It was obsolete when built as it was a terrible design. I’ve been to older stadiums (such as newlands in cape town) that are much better than the current allianz which was built far too flat and has a crazy roof which doesn’t keep the rain or the sun off.

    Even worse, it was Labor’s fault the stadium was built so crappily back in the day. Wanting a “people’s stadium” they didn’t cater for any boxes – which actually make some money. The corporate boxes at allianz today are temporary structures jerry rigged into the ends of the stadium – absolutely terrible for watching rugby.

    This is one piece of pork I can sink my teeth into. Can the trust please sign the contracts now and the government hand over the cash prior to the caretaker period starting on 1 March. Still 3 months to get it locked away.

    • You don’t like having to drink mid strength beer with the plebs? That’s your idea of lower living standards?

    • Pay for it yourself Slim, I know people who can’t get their kids into the local school because of over crowding.

      These stadiums should be able to wipe their own faces financially, get a 30 year loan from the government or banks.

    • Loved watching the rugby at Newlands from the school kids section, don’t suppose they have it anymore though.

    • Your pandering to a shrinking active fan base who either cannot be bothered to go to the event or cant afford it, which is only ever going to get worse, even as we have record migration.

      • Yeah Graham some-nobody was bragging the other day that his sport is now Australia’s number one sport, so bugger the rugger pitches and cricket / ping pong ovals part of the new vibrancy is that we all love watching a mediocre team struggling to beat even more rubbish teams so that they scrape into comps involving really watchable teams. I think it’s called football or soccer or synchronised diving or something like that.

    • There is a brand new Western Sydney Stadium in Parramatta opening in 2019. You won’t immediately catch the plague if you visit Western Sydney once in a while.

    • HadronCollisionMEMBER

      This is humour, surely.

      a) why should regional folks pay for stadiums and
      b) who gives a f$ck about rugby anyway. What, 10,000 people to a game? Amateur hour. Stop resisting and join the Vicci Kicki brigade.

    • Sorry Philly, no love from me.

      I reckon the ludicrous stadium knock down and rebuild proposal is beyond surreal, so if I lived in Sydney this policy alone would get my vote. $2B is a massive amount of money and should be spent on something beneficial to the community.

      And Mr Daley sounds like he may actually have balls too. I like his direct message. More power to his arm, and I wish more politicians would speak with similar clarity.

      • Politicians do speak with clarity but do the opposite when they get voted in!

        It is outrageous and there is no accountability.

        Just look at Jacinda Ardern. What a psychopath.

    • Have you seen the light rail? I have zero faith they will design and build something better. All that will happen is contractors will line their pockets and do a shoddy cheap job.

      Also pointless in the digital age where people prefer to watch these events in more convenient and cost effective ways. Not to mention Sydney demographics are working against this, with so many foreign born residents who don’t care for our local sporting codes.

    • Agree SFS is a terrible stadium. Awful amenity, looks like something from the soviet bloc, bad views, bad cover, bad bars, worse toilets.

      AAMI park is great.

  3. And that’s the REAL reason they want to rebuild the stadium: so that the corporates get to enjoy fancy new corporate boxes.

    Stuff them.

    Clearly Labor has decided that pissing off Alan Jones is now a benefit not a hazard.

  4. Look at the greyhound racing backflip. How many people in Sydney are into greyhound racing? I bet only a fraction – yet they stopped Mike Baird from turning a prime parcel of land (used for greyhound racing) into school ovals.

    Of course, if Gladys stopped immigration into Sydney – by charging foreigners $40/day for a train ticket – they need not build so many schools in the first place.

  5. I like that Daley calls it a perfectly good stadium, regardless if you believe knocking it down and replacing it is money well spent the stadium itself is a piece of crap.

    I’m sure when he goes there he sits in the general admission seats and not in a corporate box

  6. Who the f*** is Todd Greenburg – what a c***

    DANGEROUS GROUND A fuming Todd Greenberg has threatened to shift the iconic NRL grand final from Sydney after NSW Opposition leader­ Michael Daley vowed to scrap the Allianz Stadium rebuild if Labor win the state election in March.


    • Greenburg is a dill. Suncorp Stadium is too small, and there is no way Victorians will be selling out the MCG at $180-$410 per ticket.

  7. The Land Titles Registry will probably end up being owned by the Chinese government, the Saudi government, or (best option) the Singaporean government.

  8. only someone as thick as our Sports Minister would believe this threat from the NRL is even remotely serious. Call their bluff I say