Wests Tigers eye new western stadium as permanent home base

Wests Tigers will meet with Western Sydney Stadium bosses in the next fortnight to begin talks about making the new $300 million venue their permanent home.

A day after coach Ivan Cleary told Fairfax Media about his hopes of one day having the Tigers play out of the one venue – not five different grounds – to create a genuine game-day advantage, club chief executive Justin Pascoe said the new Parramatta-based stadium had plenty of appeal.

On the move: Wests Tigers will review their use of Leichhardt Oval but maintain there are no plans to abandon it.

Pascoe said Leichhardt Oval and Campbelltown Stadium would continue to be used but just how many games were taken to those popular suburban venues would be reviewed.

The Tigers are midway through a deal with ANZ Stadium, which does not expire until the end of the 2023 season.

The deal requires the Tigers to play at least four NRL games a season there and ANZ officials are given the first four picks of what games they would like to host.


However, with ANZ Stadium due to be ripped down and rebuilt at a cost of $810 million at the end of 2019 the Tigers will need a new regular home.

The Tigers like the idea of the new 30,000-capacity purpose-built Western Sydney Stadium, which will already house Parramatta.

Should a deal be struck and it is a success, the Tigers will give thought to never returning to ANZ Stadium – nor possibly Leichhardt and Campbelltown.

"We'll meet in the new couple of weeks with [stadium boss] Daryl Kerry,'' Pascoe told Fairfax Media.

"We'll see what opportunities exist and how they stack up against our strategic objectives of continual fan engagement.

"The appeal is it's a brand-new stadium with brand-new facilities for the members, corporates and players to use pre and post-game.

"Everything is on the table at the moment and no decisions have been made.

"This is the fifth year of a 10-year deal with ANZ Stadium. But works at the stadium are due to begin at the end of 2019 so we're looking at what other opportunities there are.''

The 10-year deal at ANZ Stadium was struck by the Tigers' former management and the financial sweeteners to take games there, which amount to roughly $200,000 a match, will cease at the end of this season.

Leichhardt Oval and Campbelltown Stadium create the best game-day atmosphere, especially Leichhardt on a Sunday afternoon.

The Tigers hosted North Queensland in the inner west on Thursday night and their round-23 match against St George Illawarra on a Saturday evening is expected to sell out a month in advance, especially if the Tigers remain in the top eight.

Pascoe knows the suburban grounds are a highlight for so many of the members but is also mindful of making sure the Tigers are financially viable.

There are no rules that require games to be played at Leichhardt and Campbelltown, nor an even split of matches. It would be a bold move to abandon those grounds altogether.

"Let's just say there are no plans not to play at those grounds but there are a raft of other things to consider and how we best utilise this current deal,'' Pascoe said.

Even though the Western Sydney Stadium is located in Parramatta the NRL is prepared to sell the new ground as the property of the west, not the Eels.

One drawback for the Tigers taking games to the venue is the fact their members will likely prop up neighbouring and rival Parramatta Leagues Club.

The new stadium is expected to open in April 2019, meaning the Eels – and possibly Tigers – will need to play their first few games of the NRL season away from home.

Cleary's hopes of gaining an on-field advantage from one permanent home were inspired by the fact the Tigers had already used ANZ Stadium, Campbelltown, Mt Smart Stadium, Tamworth and Leichhardt to host games in the opening 10 rounds.

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Christian Nicolussi

Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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