A decision on whether Panthers Stadium can increase its capacity to 50% for week one of the NRL Finals will be made by the end of the month.
The State Government confirmed this morning that ANZ Stadium, Bankwest Stadium and the SCG will all increase to 50 per cent capacity.
Crowds of up to 40,000 will be able to attend ANZ Stadium, 15,000 at Bankwest and 23,000 at the SCG.
Penrith is due to host a game in week one of the Finals and under current COVID rules can only have a crowd of between 3,500 and 4,000.
Penrith officials and NSW Health will work together to determine if Penrith’s capacity can increase to between 8,000 and 10,000 for the Finals. A new COVID Safe plan would need to be implemented.
If Panthers Stadium’s capacity doesn’t increase, officials will likely face a tough choice – keep the game at Penrith with a very limited crowd or move it to ANZ Stadium where a crowd of up to 40,000 could attend.
A move to Bankwest would be unlikely if the Panthers played the Eels, given it is Parramatta’s home ground.
Penrith MP Stuart Ayres confirmed this morning that discussions would be ongoing with decisions to be made by the end of the month.
Health officials are confident that crowd capacity increases are safe. Patrons will be expected to abide by specific conditions, including wearing masks when not seated.
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Senior Writer. He has more than 15 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations.