The State Opposition has demanded Labor further justify its decision to axe the full redevelopment of Penrith Stadium, with a major upgrade of the home of the Panthers to be undertaken instead.
Labor winning the State Election in March essentially killed off a Liberal Government plan to build a brand new stadium on the site of the current Penrith Paceway, and turn the existing Penrith Stadium into community parkland.
The Weekender revealed in July that while Labor will deliver on its $309 million election commitment to the stadium, that figure won’t be enough to cover a complete redevelopment.
Last week, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Sports Minister Steve Kamper as saying that early estimates on the cost of the full project had indicated that buying the Paceway site and building a new stadium would cost more than $900 million.
“The former government’s plan to shift the stadium to the Paceway site would’ve tripled the cost,” he said.
Shadow Sports Minister Eleni Petinos has questioned that figure.
“Labor must release the full costings behind this decision, to explain how a stadium just over half the size of Allianz Stadium can cost around $100 million more and nearly three times more than CommBank Stadium which cost $330 million,” she told the Weekender.
“Given the low value of the recreational zoned land occupied by the Paceway, there is a genuine concern that Labor has deliberately inflated the price to justify cutting the project.”
Petinos also claims Labor’s plan leaves the iconic Penrith Paceway with a future even more uncertain now than it was when its land was earmarked for the stadium.
“The Minns Labor Government has also left the future of the Penrith Paceway under a dark cloud. With no prospect of a rezoning for other uses and no funding for a relocation the future of the Paceway now hangs in the balance,” she said.
“Rather than trying to roll out rubbery figures to justify their decisions, the Minns Labor Government needs to be honest with the community.”
Petinos said the new stadium in Penrith made sense given the growth of the city.
“Penrith is a critical city centre located in the heart of the Western Parkland City, the closest established CBD to the new international airport and the gateway to the Blue Mountains,” Petinos said.
“The Penrith community deserves to know if the Minns Labor Government is being fair dinkum or playing with figures to justify their decision to walk away from delivering the redevelopment that the stadium needs.”
In July, Minns told the Weekender the Government would not go beyond its $309 million commitment: “Because of our severe budget pressures, we can’t have growth in that figure. We just can’t do it.”
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Breaking News Reporter. He has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations. In 2023, he was named Editor of the Year at the Mumbrella Publish Awards.