It’s possibly the most controversial part of the NSW government’s seemingly endless schedule of development and construction – the plan to knock down and rebuild the Olympic Stadium at Homebush and the Sydney Football Stadium (SFS, aka Allianz Stadium) at Moore Park at a cost of $2.3 billion. Announced late last year, the decision to go ahead with the long-mooted demolition and reconstruction work instantly provoked a firestorm of commentary. And a change.org petition calling for the government to reconsider the move that currently has over 160,000 signatures.
Why all the controversy? Well, for one thing $2.3 billion is a stack of money. Money, say those opponents of the plan, which also includes some MPs, that could be better spent servicing any number of other needs in NSW. Like schools, hospitals or local community sporting facilities. For another, the Olympic Stadium is less than 20 years old – but it already needs to be completely replaced?
Those in favour of the work naturally include Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Sports Minister Stuart Ayres, and major sporting bodies like the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust, Rugby Australia and Cricket NSW. In support of their case, they cite insufficient facilities at the SFS, as well as the argument that the OIympic Stadium was custom-built for the 2000 Olympics and is now outmoded to hold modern sporting events. By bringing the two venues up to date, they claim, NSW will stay on a level playing field (sorry!) with other parts of the country in terms of the ability to attract major sporting events.
Whether or not the work goes ahead as intended, it’s clear any redevelopment of the sites is a major undertaking. This week’s episode of Building Giants gives you an idea of just what’s involved. It follows the construction of Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, which opened in August 2017.
Standing 300 feet tall, the 75,000 capacity arena was built at a cost of over $2.1 billion and boasts one of the most complex retractable roofs in the world. The design and construction of the roof, which can close in 12 minutes, made this stadium build one of the most ambitious ever seen.
And one of the most tense. In Building Giants, we see the roof lowered from temporary supports onto the massive concrete towers on which it will ultimately rest – and it’s a delicate operation, despite the massive tonnage of materials involved.
Also a challenge is the unique 360 degree scoreboard that will sit in a circular frame high above the field. As a result of the size of the screen, normal flat screens can’t be used due to their weight, and so a novel solution is devised and tested.
While the drama surrounding Sydney’s potential new stadiums is, for now, playing out in the press, it’s likely that if the construction goes ahead, it’ll involve similar logistical problems as those seen in Building Giants – and solutions that are just as inventive.
Watch Building Giants on Saturday 3 March at 7:35pm on SBS.