Why TV boss backs Berejiklian in stadium rebuild
Channel 9 has made an extraordinary intervention in state politics to back the Berejiklian government's $1.5 billion stadium strategy.
Nine Network boss Hugh Marks yesterday waded into the brawl with new Labor leader Michael Daley by claiming Nine's NRL coverage could suffer unless Allianz Stadium at Moore Park was rebuilt.
"Nine wants to showcase NRL as a great national sport and we can only do this with the best stadia as the setting," Mr Marks said on Monday.
Demolition of Allianz is due to start in January but Mr Daley has vowed to withdraw taxpayer funding for the project if Labor wins the state election in March.
The future of Sydney's stadiums looms as a crucial issue at the coming poll.
In a strongly-worded statement Mr Marks endorsed the Coalition's plan for Allianz, saying it was crucial the project goes ahead, along with the upgrade of ANZ Stadium at Homebush.
"Sydney is a world class city that needs world class stadiums. The NRL is NSW's premier sporting competition and needs modern facilities to continue to grow and thrive," said the media CEO, who now controls a suite of newspapers as well as Channel 9.
"Parramatta and the Greater West will be well catered for with the new Western Sydney Stadium to open early next year. Central Sydney also requires the same level of modern well equipped facilities to service the North, South and East of Sydney."
The free-to-air NRL rights is the remaining sporting jewel in the crown for Nine which lost its longstanding cricket contract to Seven and Foxtel this year.
NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg last week said the organisation would consider moving the grand final out of NSW if Allianz was not rebuilt.
Mr Daley has threatened to halt construction after the state election to renegotiate the financing.
He said yesterday he would force the corporate entities building the new Allianz, including the SCG Trust, to take out a low interest loan to cover the costs.
"They will have to pay it back," Mr Daley said.
"The stadium does not need to come down, the cheapest and easiest way to do it up and refurbish it … is to leave it standing and not knock it down. I will sit down with the Trust, we will go through what will happen to the new stadium, and they can make an application with me to build a new stadium for a loan."
He said if the Trust would not accept a loan he would find "someone who will".