Minns rejects Tigers’ calls for Leichhardt Oval funding

Minns rejects Tigers’ calls for Leichhardt Oval funding
Image: Leichhardt Oval. IOIO Images, Shutterstock.



The Minns Government has blocked West Tigers’ request to divert funds for Penrith Stadium towards Leichhardt Oval, where they will play 5 of their 12 home games this season. 

The Tigers have had longstanding concerns about the condition and facilities at the inner-west ground, affectionately known as the “eighth wonder of the world” by residents.

Currently, the stadium is unable to support proper changing rooms for NRL men’s and women’s double headers, and often struggles with long lines for concession stands and bathrooms. 

After the Wests Tigers’ victory over the Cronulla Sharks last Saturday night, Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne and Tigers chief executive Shane Richardson requested that Leichhardt Oval receive 10 per cent of the funding allocated to Penrith’s stadium upgrade. 

Penrith Stadium will receive a $309 million upgrade in 2025, which will see the ground’s capacity expanded to 25,000, complete with a new western grandstand and refurbished eastern grandstand.

Mayor Byrne argued, “Transferring just 10 percent of the funds from Penrith Stadium to Leichhardt will help us save the ground for the next 50 years, while Penrith will still get an expensive Rolls Royce upgrade.” 

“It’s beyond belief that Penrith Stadium, which hosts just 11 men’s rugby league games a year, is receiving $309 Million, while Leichhardt is left on the scrap heap,” he continued.

He also added that the oval has become a hub for women’s soccer and rugby league. 

“Leichhardt is now the home ground of Sydney FC women’s team and hosted 8 of the FIFA Women’s World Cup teams last year.”

The premier pointed to the state’s debt as grounds for rejecting the request.

“I appreciate that [the Tigers] have got to make a decision about their club and where they play their home games,” he said.

“But we, as everybody knows, have got $180 billion worth of debt in NSW.

“We’ve got massive pressure on the hospital system, education system [and] in addition to that we’re rolling out the biggest public transport projects in the state’s history.”

Part of the premier’s reasoning was also Leichhardt Oval’s status as a part-time NRL venue.

Richardson has threatened to move the Tigers’ out of Leichhardt if the request for funding was not met. 

Almost 16,000 fans attended their game last Saturday night. The Tigers have 8000 members currently, with ambitions to grow that number to 13,000 by 2025. Their overall membership goal is 30,000. 

The Tigers have no home ground for next year and have hosted home games at CommBank Stadium, Campbelltown Stadium and Accor Stadium in recent years.

Richardson asserted that if funding is not secured for Leichhardt Oval, the Tigers will no longer play on the field due to poor conditions.

Moving to Accor Stadium would be a viable option, he added.

While the mayor and Tigers chief executive scramble over securing funding, some local residents have taken to the community Facebook group to voice their confusion about the matter.

In light of Inner West Council receiving $20 million in funds to revitalise Rozelle Parklands’ facilities, one community member asked why the mayor is “only interested in funding Balmain & District Football Club and not the home of rugby league in the Inner West Council Leichhardt Oval..?”

Another asked why clubs couldn’t pay for the facilities they use, saying NRL clubs pay players “ridiculously high salaries”.

“I would not want to see Council rates money being spent on these facilities,” they continued.



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