The Leichardt Oval Developments and Masterplan

On April 29, 2022 Peter V’landys urged the NSW Government to develop suburban grounds around the state instead of using the money on Accor Stadium at Homebush, stating that rugby league needs the ‘tribalism’ that the smaller grounds present. A handshake deal was allegedly done at this time, pending formal paperwork by both organisations.

The agreement would see Brookvale Oval ($100m), Leichhardt Oval ($50m) and Cronulla’s Shark Park ($100m) receive significant upgrades.

On May 10th, 2022 Inner West Council moved a motion to begin work on formulating a Master Plan for the upgrading and renovation of facilities at Leichhardt Oval in anticipation of an expected significant NSW Government financial contribution. Council noted that The Master Plan needed preserve and protect the heritage of the ground, including the Wayne Pearce Hill, while providing the modern seating and facilities the ground desperately needs.

The council invited tenders from suitably qualified and experienced organisations, for the development of a Ten-Year Master Plan to provide a sound basis for the management of Leichhardt Oval into the future..

The Master Plan was to include consideration of the following:

  • The ground hosts a minimum of six Wests Tigers home games a year.
  • A major new grandstand providing modern seating for professional sport.
  • A Museum of Inner West Rugby League.
  • Modern amenities including new change rooms, toilets, food outlets and screens.
  • New function facilities.
  • Improved parking.
  • Opening the ground up to the public as a community centre during the week.
  • An upgrade of the adjoining Leichhardt Park Aquatic Centre providing improved gym, rehabilitation, and aquatic facilities for users of Leichhardt Oval and the community.

On August 3rd, 2022 the NSW Premier announced that money for further suburban stadium investment would not be forthcoming in the immediate future with the Government choosing to prioritise the issues around recent flooding. This effectively ended Leichardt Ovals state funding.

Inner West Mayor, Darcy Byrne said, “Dominic Perrottet is happy to spend $300 million in Stuart Ayres seat, to build a shiny, new Panthers Stadium for the exclusive use of one club. But the Wests Tigers, and all of the other senior and junior, men’s and women’s Rugby League, Soccer and Rugby Union teams who regularly use Leichhardt Oval get nothing.”

On August 6th, footage was posted on social media of a railing collapsing at Leichardt Oval.

In September 2022, Wests Tigers chairman Lee Hagipantelis revealed Leichhardt Oval could be unable to host elite sports from 2023 onwards unless funding is provided by the NSW Government. The Tigers boss provided a simple solution to the NSW Government — $50 million to resurrect the ground, questioning why other NRL clubs received funding.

In May 2023, Football Australia said it was an adequate training venue but it raised concerns about its elite-sport longevity.

“For elite and international football, the facilities are adequate for ad hoc training sessions but aren’t something that could be used in its current form on an ongoing basis, particularly with the venue being used by multiple sports, which impacts the quality of the playing surface,” a Football Australia spokeswoman said. “The facility is not comparable to world-leading football-specific training bases.”

ON August 22, 2023 On the back of the women’s World Cup, Inner West Council proposed Leichhardt Oval as a permanent hub for women’s sport, and to help nurture the next generation of Matildas. Council has developed a draft master plan to upgrade and renovate facilities at Leichhardt Oval and is asking state and federal governments to consider tiered funding scenarios for the oval.

On the 12th of July it was reported that Council had engaged Cox Architecture to develop a masterplan for development of the Oval. With no funding proposed by the NSW Government towards stadium upgrades in the budget, the Council will look towards private investment.

It is estimated that these upgrades will approximately cost $98.3 million, but a $45 million ‘moderate’ upgrade serves as a backup plan. This will see new corporate facilities and an upgraded lounge created, as well as improved accessibility.

On October 18th the Inner West Council announced it had voted to adopt the proposed Masterplan for Leichardt Oval, worth a reported 100m. The proposal includes a new northern stand, lower bowl seating and a possible upgrade to the major western stand, as well as proposing to host a Museum of Inner West Rugby League.

The masterplan is here and the Engagement Outcomes Report is here.

On October 19, The Telegraph reported that the plan to revive Leichhardt Oval has come under fire after it was revealed the proposal could include building a ‘beer garden’ directly opposite a leading support service for people living with alcohol addiction.


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