Your stadium questions answered: How Panthers will manage huge move


Nathan Cleary kicks a goal at the iconic Penrith Stadium. Photo: NRL Photos.
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The Panthers will work alongside members and corporate partners in an unprecedented collaboration to manage the departure from BlueBet Stadium at the end of the year and the return to a new venue in 2026 or 2027.

While the old adage of ‘you can’t please everyone’ will play a part in the stadium redevelopment, the club is keen to minimise disruption for fans as much as possible and involve them in the process.

It comes as the Weekender understands the Panthers are close to locking in a deal with CommBank Stadium in Parramatta to host home games for the 2025 season.

Panthers CEO Matt Cameron confirmed that Populous has been appointed as the architect for the new stadium project.

“They did the original, very preliminary drawings of what it would look like – but they’re back on board,” he said.

“There’s a planning phase that they will go through to come up with a design brief that they will go to market with, and intend to engage with builders.

“Their intent is to begin in October. After we play our last game there will be a window and then in a perfect world, October they will be in and will be getting on with it.”

Panthers CEO Matt Cameron. Photo: Melinda Jane.

Cameron and other key Penrith officials are currently having a rolling monthly meeting with Infrastructure NSW. Every team within the Panthers football department is involved in the enormous task surrounding the stadium and a major planning meeting was held last Friday.

While the stadium will bring extra capacity, improved corporate facilities and better infrastructure to the famous home of the Panthers, many fans and corporate partners remain nervous about the changes mean for them.

For many, the stadium has been in their lives for decades – a second home, with memories of good times, bad times and watching hundreds of players wear the Penrith colours on the hallowed turf. Families have grown up together and lifelong friendships formed.

Rather than dismiss this as the cost of progress, the Panthers are eager to embrace and understand it with member and corporate committees close to being finalised. The club has taken the extraordinary step of holding the member meetings fortnightly to ensure engagement is high while corporate partners will meet monthly.

An artist's impression of the new-look Penrith Stadium.
An artist’s impression of the new-look Penrith Stadium.

One of the major issues brought up by fans is like for like seating – particularly for long-time season ticket holders in the grandstands.

“On day one we expressed our desire not to have a similar situation at CommBank where the western stand was all corporate,” Cameron said.

“The seating capacity in that western grandstand will exceed where it currently sits.

“It might look different but fundamentally if you’re on the 20 metre line and 20 metres from the fence, we’d like to think we’ll get you back there.”

Panthers Head of Commercial Jeremy Tuite said the club has had discussions with Cronulla, Parramatta as well as the Western Sydney Wanderers; who have all had to manage stadium re-builds.

“We spoke to all of those clubs and got all of the inside information from their perspective,” he said.

“The general sentiment from our members is they want to return to the closest possible seat as possible, or like for like, and we’re very aware of that.”

An artist’s impression of the new-look Penrith Stadium

Tuite said the club understands many will not want to travel to Parramatta for home games next year.

“There will be a subset of our membership base and corporate partners who don’t want to travel to Parramatta,” he said.

“Our job is to find a solution.

“It’s addressing what we can do stadium wise but also here in Penrith so we can give our members and fans options.

“We don’t want to tell our members what the policy is for next year. We want them to have skin in the game, which is why we have the advisory committees.

“We’ll be leaning on the advisory committees to lean on the wider membership, to ensure it’s a very collaborative process.”

Members have also expressed their concern about food and drink prices and their potential increases under a new stadium, which will be controlled by Venues NSW with Panthers as the anchor tenant.

“It will be different, clearly,” Cameron said.

“The flip side to that is the game day experience is going to be better than it is at Penrith now.”

A shot of Penrith Park from the 1970s. Photo: Penrith City Council.

Cameron is also hoping fans will have the opportunity to take a slice of the old stadium – such as their physical seat – with them before the bulldozers come in.

“It won’t be turn up with a 12m socket wrench and do your best – there’s some things we’ll need to work through,” he said.

“But we’re pretty confident we’ll be able to be in a position to offer fans that opportunity.”

The club is also aware of concerns from corporate partners, particularly local businesses, that they could be priced out of supporting the team when the new venue opens.

Cameron said he was hopeful that with more corporate facilities inside the new stadium, price points could be found for all levels of sponsors.

The club is aiming for a 2026 return to Penrith, but construction is not a perfect science – meaning it could extend out to 2027.

BlueBet Stadium. Photo: NRL Images.

And when the Panthers do return, Cameron is confident the venue will still have a Penrith look and feel about it.

“We’ll be the anchor tenant, which is a really important point to make,” he said.

“The wizardry that exists in modern stadiums these days allows us to transform it.”

The Panthers last week released an emotional video, ‘The Last Ride’, recognising the final season at the stadium ahead of its most significant transformation since 1967.

Penrith will play their final game at the venue either on Saturday, September 7 against the Titans or a week later in a Home Final.


Troy Dodds

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.

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