Australia: Will Penrith Stadium undergo a major upgrade?

source:; author: Mateusz Osmola

Australia: Will Penrith Stadium undergo a major upgrade? The current home of the Penrith Panthers of the National Rugby League (NRL) is to be demolished after a new multi-million dollar facility is built next door. The new stadium would be built on a site next to the old facility, where a horse paceway is situated.


Penrith Stadium was opened in the spring of 1967, and the first match ever played at the venue was between the Panthers and Newtown Jets. The facility is located in Penrith, a remote western suburb of Sydney. The stadium completely changed its shape in the 1980s when the playing field was changed into a rectangular one. This allowed the venue to, apart from rugby league, host football and rugby union games as well. The works also included constructing new stands along the pitch.

Penrith Stadium© Penrith Panthers

Behind the ends of the pitch, on the north and south sides, there are grassed gentle slopes from which fans can also watch matches. The slope on the north side is known as Family Hill. The last major expansion took place in 2006, when the west stand was extended with a new section on the south side and new boxes were built. The venue is equipped with floodlights and LED screens and has a capacity of 22,500 spectators, who can also find 300 pokies and table games at Australian online casino Joe Fortune, in-between matches they attend.

The plans to build a new stadium for Penrith Panthers, who compete in the NRL, go back to 2021. Initial ideas were to upgrade the current venue at the cost of more than $300 million, but it was later decided that a completely new arena would be better constructed on the site of the nearby Penrith Paceway. The new facility is expected to hold 30 000 spectators, which will come from the New South Wales state budget. Following the eventual construction of the new stadium, the old facility would be demolished.

However, what seemed to be a done deal, as the New South Wales premier’s made a decision to proceed with the project at all costs, is now highly criticised. To be perfectly honest, the venue is not the most significant in the whole state. It therefore came as a huge surprise that the government plans to spend so much money on this project, while scrapping the upgrades of other suburban stadiums, citing acute budget pressures.

Penrith Stadium© Penrith Panthers

What started as an redevelopment venture, has quietly changed into what appears to be a multimillion project, involving the state government compulsorily acquiring the plot next door and the construction of an entirely new stadium. The costs of which will surely exceed the $300 already allocated in the budget. The land, where the Penrith harness racing paceway and Penrith show are located, belongs to Penrith District AH&I Society. The government has announced plans to compulsorily acquire the plot, which came as a huge surprise for the owners. The site has been in their hands for 177 years.

Nevertheless, the new NSW sports minister, Alister Heskens, says no decision was made on acquiring land for the new Penrith Stadium. He replaced Stuart Ayres in this position, who is a big advocate of the development of the venue in the new location. Ayres envisioned building an arena resembling TQL Stadium in Cincinnati, where FC Cincinnati of the MLS plays their home games. Heskens said that the notice delivered the paceway was about commencing commercial negotiations as a precursor to compulsory acquisition, but a final decision had not been made.

One of the biggest supporters of the new venue are the Panthers, who are now concerned about the future of the project. The NRL supports their pursuit. The league CEO, Andrew Abdo has assured the club fans that plans for a new stadium will not be cancelled by the NSW state government.

In an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, Abdo said: We are extremely committed to making sure that we can get world-class stadiums for all sports, but particularly for our sport in Sydney. The commitment the government has shown to that strategy is really heartening for us, and it’s an important area and an important stadium. [Western Sydney] has produced so many stars in the game, and we’ve now got CommBank Stadium and hopefully, very soon, we’re going to get construction started on Penrith Stadium. 

Penrith Stadium© Jason L (CC BY-SA 4.0)