Canterbury and Souths weigh up ANZ future

Scott Bailey
South Sydney and Canterbury are weighing up whether they'll use ANZ Stadium to host their games

Canterbury and South Sydney are weighing up whether they will play at ANZ Stadium again long-term as the rush begins to have the ground ready for an NRL return.

The NSW Government is expected to announce that crowds of up to 10,000 people will be allowed into ANZ and the SCG as of July 1.

That will give those stadiums a slight advantage, given they will be allowed to host an extra 2,500 people more than the next biggest venues in Sydney.

In the short-term at least, that could make ANZ Stadium a more attractive option to its regular tenants.

Canterbury are contemplating hosting South Sydney to allow the extra members to attend if the NRL agree to clubs returning home early and extra stadiums being used.

If the move is made, work will also have to begin quickly on the stadium to have it ready for July 5.

Preparations had already begun before the coronavirus shutdown for the now-abandoned two-year redevelopment of the ground.

While turf maintenance continued during the break in case any sport returned, the stadium had essentially been packed up and storage rooms cleaned out.

Long-term there are more question marks with the Bulldogs and Rabbitohs understood to be unhappy with how recent months have transpired.

Both clubs expected to play at Bankwest Stadium for the next two years, before returning to an upgraded 70,000-seat stadium in 2023.

Instead, they have seen Parramatta upgraded and Moore Park leap above the Olympic venue in the stadium master plan, before the upgrades were completely abolished.

Location-wise, ANZ Stadium is still seen as a good long-term fit for the Bulldogs given its proximity to their playing district.

But if a better financial option came along, there is no doubt the club would now seriously consider it.

They have already made clear to ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys they would like to see Belmore Oval considered if a number of suburban grounds get Bankwest-style upgrades.

The club also still own a 35,000 square metre area in Liverpool that was originally part of the Oasis Project, and could be another option for a medium-sized stadium.

Souths are now canvassing their members for where they would like to play out of long-term.

Among the options put forward is returning to Moore Park once the new Allianz Stadium is completed in 2023, or a mix between there and Bankwest.

Both the Bulldogs and Rabbitohs are locked into long-term contracts at ANZ Stadium, but that was signed believing the upgrade would be made.

The contract is effectively with the state government given the ground is government-owned, making moving around easier.

Meanwhile, confirmation the NRL grand final and State of Origin will return to ANZ is expected within weeks.