Opinion: Numbers All Add Up for Stadiums

Figures released last week estimated the Sydney economy contributed to more than 40 per cent to Australia’s economic growth.

The thriving visitor economy is playing a vital role in that economic prosperity. Currently it is worth more than $33 billion per year to the NSW economy and supports one in 23 jobs right across the state.

A big contributor to this success is our major event program.

Whether it be grand finals, State of Origin, the Bledisloe Cup, big drawing football matches involving the Socceroos, visiting Premier League clubs, or concerts by global musical superstars, these events are critical in driving economic activity and with it the jobs that we all need.

Increasingly they keenly contested as other cities recognise their economic value.

Sydney has no automatic right to host these major events.

This is why other state governments across the country have spent billions of dollars developing their own world-class stadiums while NSW has stood still.

Just look at the recent Test match in Adelaide. 

Record crowds have flocked to the redeveloped Adelaide Oval, a redevelopment which not long ago was criticised but now has revolutionised the way the ground interacts with the Adelaide CBD. Next month’s one day international at the new 60,000 seat, $1.6 billion stadium in Perth is already sold out.

Meanwhile, we saw the final of the Rugby League World Cup not in Sydney but at the nation’s premier rectangular stadium in Brisbane.     

Both ANZ Stadium and Allianz Stadium currently attract a combined 3.5 million visitors per year and contribute more than $1 billion into the NSW economy.

The organisations who provide the content that goes into these stadiums, stadiums that you and I own, have made it clear that we are in danger of losing this economic activity as our infrastructure no longer stacks up.

To compete globally and attract national and international events, our stadiums must have facilities that offer not only a great experience for fans but are recognised as centres of sporting excellence.  
Investment in the stadia means we can compete on the world stage for events such as the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Rugby World Cup, and keep Sydney as the number one major events destination.

While there has been plenty of argument about spending priorities, the paradox is that the economic activity that would be lost if we do not act now would mean less money would be available to spend on vital services such as health and education. 

While the NSW economy is strong there will never be a better opportunity to make these vital investments.      

This was published in the Daily Telegraph, 13 December, 2017.

Patricia Forsythe

Executive Director

Patricia represents the Chamber on the City of Sydney Retail Advisory Panel and the Sydney Airport Planning Coordination Forum. Patricia has represented the Chamber on a number of NSW government committees including the Light Rail Delivery Phase Roundtable, Sydney’s Competitive Positioning Steering Committee and the Retail Expert Advisory Committee for the Department of Planning and the Environment.