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Sport24.co.za | Wallabies to host All Blacks at upgraded, historic venue



Cape
Town – The Wallabies are
set to play the All
Blacks
 at Allianz Stadium for the first time in 24 years when the
upgraded venue is re-opened in 2022.

Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle revealed
the likely staging of the Bledisloe Cup clash at the unveiling of the design
plans for the new Allianz Stadium on Friday.

After much debate and political
warfare, the New South Wales (NSW) government committed to a AUS$729 million
rebuild of Allianz Stadium, as part of a stadiums strategy that has also seen a
new Parramatta Stadium being built, and plans for a AUS$700-plus million
refurbishment of ANZ Stadium as well.

Wrapped in a bronze facade and
with a hi-tech roof that can be lit in a home team’s colours, the new Allianz
Stadium will hold 45,000 spectators and will boast far better game-day
facilities for fans than the run-down old version.

The stadium – designed by the
same architects who created the original in 1988 – will also have upgraded
change room capacity, with facilities that are specifically tailored to be
female-friendly.

With the old Allianz stadium not
meeting building code and safety standards, Rugby Australia put their support
behind the proposal to knock down and re-build; which NSW Sports Minister
Stuart Ayres said came in at almost the same price as a refurbishment.

Castle said there would be a
large number of benefits for rugby in the impressive new stadium.

“From a fan experience point of
view, the Waratahs will have a world-class stadium to play in, which is
important,” Castle told Rugby
Australia’s official website
.

“Our Sydney Sevens event, which
we have here in NSW, it’s a great location for us, in the future for our Sydney
sevens. And also for us, that high tier Wallaby content, for a fan experience
to have a great world-class stadium to experience that in is really important.

“But equally we now have a
stadium that allows our back of house operations and our athletes to have a
great experience, and dress in changing rooms that are appropriate for high
performance athletes.”

It is expected demolition will
begin on Allianz Stadium in December and the new stadium will be opened in
early 2022.

Having a brand new stadium in
Moore Park will no doubt raise questions about whether Rugby Australia would
think about taking Bledisloe Cup games back to the east, as was once customary.

Castle said the answer is yes,
but only temporarily.

Bigger venues bring bigger
revenues but with ANZ Stadium not likely to be available in 2022, the Wallabies
look likely to play an inbound July Test at the new Allianz stadium and then
host the All Blacks in Moore Park for the first time since 1998.

“That’s the plan, at this stage,”
said Castle.

“Certainly the indications we
have had from the stadia around availability and when they’re going to come
back online, the plan is for this to be (the venue) in mid-2022.

“Our aspiration will always be to
get a (Bledisloe) crowd that gets to 80,000 and where we can host that is ANZ
Stadium.

“But the reality is because of
the transition of ANZ Stadium into Allianz Stadium as far as construction goes,
we will probably have to have a Bledisloe Cup Test match here at the new
stadium, which will be fantastic and be a great experience.”

Castle said the new Allianz
Stadium would also allow the Sydney Sevens to have another “re-birth”, after
the tournament spends a few years in Sydney’s west.

It will be held at Olympic Park
next February and there is some potential for Parramatta Stadium to host it in
future years, too.

Castle welcomed the changes in
dressing room facilities to cater for female teams but also the fact that
Allianz Stadium will now have four change rooms, instead of two, and open up
the potential for double and triple-headers.

“It’s just the way it should be,
in modern stadia. And that’s really important. But it’s not just about female
athletes, it’s about the ability to run multiple games,” she added.

“In the configuration, you could
run an under 16s, under 18s, under 20s, Wallaroos into Wallabies and because
there are enough rooms to accommodate them, you are not having athletes running
down hallways with bags under their arms or getting changed in bathrooms and
that sort of thing.”

A pre-sale in Western Australia
for tickets to the Bledisloe Cup at Perth’s new Optus Stadium was swamped this
week, and corporate hospitality is all-but sold out as well.

Castle said that was evidence
that new stadia are vital.

“We are very happy with that and
that’s a combination of people wanting to see the content but it also very much
wanting to have an experience in the new Perth stadium, and that’s the proof
point why this new stadium is important,” she said. 





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