The NSW Government’s decision to proceed with the $300 million Penrith stadium is under scrutiny

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The New South Wales premier’s decision to press ahead with the $300m redevelopment of Penrith Stadium in one of the state’s most marginal seats, while dumping other suburban stadium projects for budgetary reasons comes under scrutiny.

Former deputy, sports minister and local member, Stuart Ayres, has been a strong advocate for the Penrith Panthers stadium upgrade.

The Labor opposition has asked the government to produce documents to the House of Lords on why it has dumped the projects and why it is continuing with the Penrith project, given other pressing budget needs.

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– We will examine this decision carefully. We will be asking questions about what drove it, who knew about it and its impact on the local community,” said Labor MP John Graham, who called for the papers.

The order seeks paperwork relating to the commitment to finance and build suburban stadiums in Sydney, including Penrith Stadium and the subsequent decision to scrap some of them.

It requires the production of business cases, tender documents and contracts, as well as cost-benefit analyses.

The Penrith stadium project is not an upgrade. In July, it quietly morphed into what appears to be a multimillion-dollar development, involving the state government compulsorily acquiring the 11-hectare site next door and the construction of a brand new stadium.

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This site is very large and combined with the old stadium site could be a major expansion of Penrith.

The site next door is owned by the Penrith Agricultural Society and home to the Penrith harness racing paceway and the Penrith show, as well as a club and several businesses.

The acquisition order, which came in July, a day before the announcement of the more extensive plans, caught Paceway boss Tash Greentree completely off guard.

Faced with long-term financial pressures, Pace had been in discussions with Penrith Council about the possibilities of redeveloping their site into 2,000 homes and a mixed-use development.

It has signed on a development partner, Capital Corporation and started work on the master plan and rezoning proposal to submit to the council. Assuming it received development permission in the future – it planned to buy new land in the region and build new facilities.

But now that opportunity will probably fall to the state government and the Penrith Panthers.

Greentree has warned the future of the pace and the Penrith show is now uncertain as the compulsory buyout is unlikely to provide sufficient funds for the move.

Meanwhile, the collapse of a safety rail at Leichhardt Oval last weekend, which sent over a dozen people tumbling from a stand, will renew questions about how decisions were made to scrap some upgrades but continue with Penrith.

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The group of spectators – part of a 15,000-strong crowd watching a rugby match between Saint Ignatius’ College Riverview and St Joseph’s College – suffered injuries including concussion, bruising and broken bones.

Several investigations are ongoing into the incident.

“We’ve been saying for some time that the condition of the facility in Leichhardt is substandard, it’s third world and potentially dangerous, what we saw was the fulfillment of that potential,” Wests Tigers chairman Lee Hagipantelis said.

The government’s pushback on stadiums has drawn fire from ARL boss Peter V’landys, who threatened to take the rugby league grand final to Brisbane.

On Wednesday, the decision drew criticism from one of the government’s own dumped fair trading ministers, Eleni Petinos, who has tabled a motion calling on the government to honor its commitment, particularly to her local team, the Cronulla Sharks.

“We love our footwear and should get our fair share in the Shire. Today I called on the NSW Government to honor its commitment to funding suburban stadiums like #SharkPark,” she said on Facebook.

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