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Anger over Sydney stadia demolitions grows

Tens of thousands of people have signed a petition against the New South Wales (NSW) government’s plans to demolish and rebuild two major sports stadiums in Sydney, Australia, at a cost of $2 billion.

The NSW government recently announced its decision to demolish the Sydney Football Stadium and the Olympic Stadium in Sydney Olympic Park.

Under the plans, a new 75,000-seat rectangular stadium will replace ANZ Stadium at Sydney Olympic Park by 2022, with construction to start in 2019.

At Moore Park, a new 45,000-seat stadium will replace Allianz Stadium by 2021. Construction will begin in 2018.

The NSW government said the new world-class stadiums will enable NSW to attract major sporting and entertainment events such as the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the Rugby World Cup.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the new stadiums would bring fans closer to the action, with advanced technology and steep seating to create a colosseum-inspired wall of sound and colour. She said:

To compete globally and attract national and international events, our stadiums must have the most modern facilities that offer a great experience for fans.

But the need for the relatively young stadiums to be demolished has come into question and sports commentator Peter FitzSimons launched a petition against the move. He said in a newspaper column:

But who knocks down a cathedral after just 20 years? We [have] two pretty good stadiums right now – that are rarely filled – which are going to be knocked down at a cost of $2 billion, to be replaced by two new stadiums, all while there is little public demand to do either.

The demolition plan is proving to be widely unpopular and the petition calls on the government to reconsider its “decision to knock down two perfectly fine sports stadiums,” citing both the “staggering cost” and a lack of public demand.

The petition says:

We, the undersigned, respectfully call on the Premier of NSW, Gladys Berejiklian, and the NSW Cabinet, to reconsider their decision to knock down two perfectly fine sports stadiums. We are tired of taxpayer dollars being lavished on building facilities for sports big business, while community sport withers on the vine for lack of facilities and resources.