So a number of things have sparked up in the recent establishments of Gold Coast and GWS, and for those who like to engage in Code Wars, heres something of a history going back 20 years or so.
In 2005, the NSW government announced $20 million in funding for the development of Cricket and AFL facilities in Western Sydney. Importantly, the announcement specifically mentions the funding is for AFL/Cricket facilities and $5 million for soccer.
- Developing a main oval with seating capacity for 10,000 spectators, including a grandstand;
- Developing a second oval for training and junior games;
- Constructing an indoor practice hall, possibly with gym, sports injury and education and training facilities; and
- Providing additional car parking and an adventure playground.
Andrew Demetriou was quoted by NSW Planning
“AFL/Blacktown Council community partnership, will host the AFL’s multicultural program, school and community activities”
This is crucial to remember later on. At the time approval was granted GWS was not part of the plan.
The Blacktown facility was ready in July 2008. The Daily Telegraph reported that the council had spent 15 of 20 million allocated to sport facilities in the area on one oval. Rugby League people were reported as furious and that league facilities in the region deserved more attention.
“I think it’s disgusting. They’re building up another code while letting down a code that has supported them for years.” – Don Milides, Rooty Hill Dragons secretary
For its part the council responded that the NRL had backed down on its plans to build an academy in Blacktown. Blacktown Mayor Leo Kelly was reported as saying
“I’d say to (NRL chief David) Gallop and all the rugby league maybe get off your hands, come out and talk to us and we’ll move on. Blacktown doesn’t owe the NRL anything, the NRL owes Blacktown.”
In May 2012, The Telegraph and The Age reported on the GWS move to Homebush due to a lack of summer facilities, noting that while the move takes AFL premiership matches from Western Sydney (not something that was ever going to happen anyway), the AFL will continue to play NAB Cup and NEAFL matches there. Some Administration and talent programs will be based at the centre. The move was expected to save $18 million.
The move was criticised by Penrith league personality, Phil Gould
“We’ve been there for a hundred years. Maybe they’ve underestimated the strength of rugby league in that area. They’ve come in full of promotion and promises for western Sydney. There will now only be token visibility at Blacktown.” – Phil Gould
“Where we are going to be based is still the west of Sydney. I don’t think there are any other football codes spending $4 million in development across the west of Sydney.” – GWS CEO Dave Matthews
- Greater Western Sydney Football Club Wikipedia page
- Jun 13, 2012 – “GWS saves 18 million with move” – Telegraph
- May 29, 2012 – “GWS Giants new home at Olympic Park” – Blacktown Advocate
- May 29, 2012 – “GWS defends move to new home ground” – The Age
- Jul 15, 2008 – “AFL unveil home ground for second sydney team” – Telegraph
- Jul 17, 2008 – “Blacktown council uses almost all sports funds for AFL oval” – Telegraph
- Mar 21, 2005 – “Premier Carr announces $20 million for major new sporting facilities” – NSW Planning