Penrith will aim to cater for existing season ticket holders in the soon-to-be revitalised western grandstand when the new-look Penrith Stadium opens in 2026.
The Panthers will exit the venue at the end of the 2024 season to make way for 12 months of upgrades, which will include a new western stand and improved facilities.
There had been fears that existing western stand members – some of the club’s longest serving fans – would be forced to move elsewhere in the stadium from 2026 in a repeat of CommBank Stadium in Parramatta where the western stand is reserved for corporate and media facilities.
Panthers Chairman Peter Graham is adamant that won’t happen at Penrith.
“It will be one of our guiding principles that those with current seats will retain them,” he told the Weekender.
“We can be confident about that because the early plans at this stage are that the stands will be bigger, will incorporate more… we’ll certainly be taking care of our members. We don’t want people losing their seats.”
The Weekender understands that Panthers will push for existing season ticket holders to be offered ‘like for like’ seating in the new stand. It is a request almost certain to be accepted by Infrastructure NSW and Venues NSW who are keen to get the project right and welcome Penrith as the anchor tenant.
Graham is also determined to ensure Penrith’s exit from the venue at the end of next season is a smooth one.
“We’re developing some principles around our move out of here and that needs to be handled with respect as well,” he said.
“There’s so many people who love the old Panthers ground and so do I. It’s got that wonderful tradition.
“There will be the opportunity for people to take away a bit of memorabilia.”
Penrith’s season away from home will be a challenge but the club is planning to offer similar seating to season ticket holders at the temporary home – likely Accor Stadium or CommBank Stadium.
There’s a push for some to head to Homebush even though Parramatta is closer, the Weekender understands.
“We want to retain the loyalty of our members and supporters during that period,” Graham said.
The club will also spend more time on the road with plans to be part of the Las Vegas slate of games in 2025 and potentially an extra regional match.
Graham said Venues NSW would run the refurbished venue from 2026 but was hopeful Panthers would manage food and beverage offerings and groundskeeping.
“Potentially there’s challenges but the conversations we’re having with both Infrastructure NSW and Venues NSW are very positive,” he said.
“They really are interested in what we need and what we want. We think there’s a fantastic opportunity.”
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.