NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian insists the state government got the best price and timeline for construction of the new Sydney Football Stadium, despite a $99 million blowout.
Construction giant John Holland was confirmed as the new contractor for the Moore Park stadium’s construction on Wednesday, after Lendlease in July walked away from the beleaguered project.
The NSW government has awarded a $735 million contract to John Holland for the stadium build, which is scheduled for completion in 2022 ahead of the 2022 NRL grand final.
That would lift the total estimated cost for the new stadium to $828 million – almost $100 million higher than the government’s initial $729 million budget.
The Premier said that while the cost had increased, a project like Sydney Football Stadium was only built every so often and the government needed to get it right.
Ms Berejiklian said the final cost was conservative as it included contingency money. She hoped the final project spend would come under budget.
“Government always gives its estimate and says this is our best information on what the budget is but now we’ve been to market, we’ve been through a robust process,” Ms Berejiklian said in Sydney.
“Three world-class companies have bid, they’ve given us their best price, their best timeframe and I’m confident we’ve got the best price.”
The project has been controversial in NSW, with the demolition of the old stadium becoming an election issue in March.
Then opposition leader Michael Daley described the rebuilding plan as a “scandalous waste of money” in a fiery on-air exchange with radio broadcaster Alan Jones during the election campaign.
Mr Daley told Jones – the longest serving member on the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust – that he would sack him and the other elected board members if Labor won the state election.
The demolition eventually went ahead after the NSW Land and Environment Court dismissed a legal challenge from community group Local Democracy Matters and the Waverley Council.
The Coalition government came under further scrutiny in July after it revealed the offer from Lendlease to rebuild the stadium did not meet its expectations.
Ms Berejiklian admitted there had never been a construction contract in place, despite previous announcements that Lendlease was “the construction contractor”.
John Sidoti, the former sport minister, said at the time that the Coalition would deliver the stadium on time and within the $729 million budget.
Opposition leader Jodi McKay on Wednesday said the entire project was “built on a lie”.
She questioned the Premier’s priorities, saying $100 million could buy three firefighting aircraft or five schools.
“The Premier said that this is value for money. But can I say what this is, is gross incompetence,” Ms McKay said.
“I have no confidence whatsoever that this project will be delivered on time.”
Ms Berejiklian said Lendlease’s offer was “very much more expensive than what we’ve ended up with”.
Demolition of the old Sydney Football Stadium will be completed by the end of the year. NSW planning minister Rob Stokes said the rebuild had received planning approval.