Calls for an upgrade at several local stadiums in Sydney are only set to grow louder after video emerged of a collapsing grandstand at Leichhardt Oval.
Radio host Ryan ‘Fitzy’ Fitzgerald attended a schoolboys rugby match between St Joseph’s College and Riverview on Saturday and shared a video of an ugly incident on Twitter.
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In the clip, a Joeys player makes an attempt to the delight of the full audience.
But the video then turned to see a railing at the front of a small grandstand collapse under the weight of the fans, sending some of them to concrete yards below.
Fitzgerald wrote, “Do you think Leichardt Oval needs an upgrade?”
It is not clear if any of the onlookers were injured. Channel 9 reports that paramedics are on the scene.
The collapse happened in front of a crowd of about 15,000 and brought the match to a halt.
The unfortunate incident will only put more pressure on the NSW government to commit to funding upgrades to three Sydney stadiums.
It emerged this week that Sydney is on the brink of losing the NRL Grand Final after the state government reportedly walked away from an $800 million pledge.
The agreed deal, reportedly closed in May, is on the brink of collapse and ARLC chairman Peter V’landys is said to be furious.
Under the agreement, Brookvale Oval ($100 million), Leichhardt Oval ($50 million) and Shark Park ($100 million) would receive significant upgrades – and if delivered, the grand finale would remain in Sydney for the next 20 years until 2042 on condition that the Olympic venue would receive an $800 million upgrade.
Those plans were scrapped amid the pandemic, with the NRL moving to move those funds to suburbs and V’landys claiming he had received verbal confirmations from Berejiklian and Perrottet for between $250 and $350 million.
Penrith Stadium was also in the deal, but $300 million has reportedly been ticked off to upgrade the grounds.
“We are in delicate negotiations with the NSW government,” said V’landys.
“All options are on the table if these negotiations fail.”
A deadline passed on Tuesday, with the two sides still staring at each other with reports that Perrottet plans to walk away from a $250 million pledge to upgrade lands, according to The Daily Telegraph.
2GB presenter Ben Fordham horrified NSW Sports Secretary Stuart Ayres, who has since resigned from his ministerial posts for various reasons, about why Penrith Stadium had been funded but not the other reasons.
“You are the Secretary of State for Sport, your home ground is Penrith, you are a Panthers fan and as far as I know you are probably the number one cardholder,” said Fordham.
“So they got the $300 million, so what about Brookvale, Shark Park, Leichhardt Oval… I’d be seriously surprised if you don’t know the answer I’m putting to you.
‘Why did your home base get the money at your home base and the others didn’t?
“Ben, there’s a long-term strategy,” Ayres said.
“We made decisions in the interest of the public.
“We have a long-term stadium strategy that we have been executing since 2015. We have rebuilt the Parramatta stadium, we are about to open the new Sydney Football stadium.
“We are committed to a stadium in Penrith, it reflects our three-city strategy.
“We have invested well over $1.5 billion, part of that is that we would like to have a long-term commitment from the NRL for the grand finale.
“We’ve just had Covid. We’ve had significant flooding effects that put more pressure on the budget.”
The Queensland government is now preparing a bid to claim the NRL grand final for years to come.
Originally published as Tribune at Leichhardt Oval plunges into terrifying scenes