Sports commentator Peter FitzSimons has launched a petition against the NSW government’s plans to demolish and rebuild two major Sydney sports stadiums at a cost of $2 billion.
The NSW government announced its decision to demolish the Sydney Football Stadium in Moore Park by Cox Architecture and the Olympic Stadium in Sydney Olympic Park by Populous and Bligh Lobb Sports Architecture on 24 November.
FitzSimons launched the petition after questioning the need to rebuild the stadium in a column in the Sydney Morning Herald on 29 November, in which he compared sports stadiums to cathedrals.
“But who knocks down a cathedral after just 20 years?” he asked. “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. At the time of writing, more than 119,000 people have signed the Change.org petition, with the number growing by the hour.
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.
It suggest that the money could be better spent by providing funds to grassroots sports organizations and refurbishing the existing stadiums.
Sports minister Stuart Ayres said the Sydney Football Stadium should be replaced because it lacked female toilets and disability access.
But the Australian Institute of Architects says this could be done by refurbishing the existing buildings. “We haven’t seen the detailed business case,” Andrew Nimmo, the Institute’s NSW chapter president, told ABC Radio Sydney. “I would be very surprised if it is not possible to bring both buildings up to the required standards for less money and obviously a more sustainable outcome than totally demolishing and rebuilding.”
“With structure that are this young, there has to a very convincing argument to justify demolition and we haven’t seen it yet.”