Australian state sells off government agency to build more stadiums

Neil deMause,

fieldofschemes-BurnsRatnerThe premier of the Australian state of New South Wales is selling off an entire governmental department to raise money to upgrade Sydney’s sports stadiums. I am not shitting you:

Hot on the heels of the privatisation of the state’s electricity poles and wires, the Baird government is selling the operations of the Land and Property Information Service – hopefully for a 10-figure sum – to help fund its $1 billion-plus upgrade of Sydney’s sports stadiums. 

Premier Mike Baird has already earmarked $600 million from the Restart NSW fund for the ambitious stadiums plan, which includes the new 50,000-seat stadium at Moore Park, rebuilding Parramatta Stadium and upgrading ANZ Stadium at Homebush.

My knowledge of Australian sports venues is extremely limited, but fortunately we have on hand FoS correspondent David Dyte, who’s a Melbourne native and knows all these stadiums well. I asked him for a rundown, and he replied:

Parramatta Stadium serves the far west of the city, and is home to its own rugby league team. It’s pretty old and I guess could use work. ANZ (aka Stadium Australia) is the 2000 Olympic stadium and is reconfigurable – it hosts Australian football (Sydney, Western Sydney) as well as state level rugby league, and national soccer and rugby. It’s in good shape and does well. Moore Park is central and already has the Sydney Cricket Ground – Australia’s only MLB park – and the Sydney Football Stadium (for all the rectangular field sports I already listed, and home to Easts in rugby league, and Sydney FC in soccer) right next door. Why you need another stadium there, unless it’s a rebuild of the football one, is beyond me. [EDIT: It’s indeed a rebuild of the football one.] It’s already redundant with ANZ, really.

As to the arena, the SEC was fine and didn’t need replacing.

So, um… wtf.

WTF indeed. This would be a pretty remarkable stadium spending spree even without selling the state’s property-licensing arm — which normally brings in a hefty chunk of change to the government each year — to a private company and using the proceeds to pay for it, but … they’re selling off part of the government to pay for new sports stadiums. I mean, guh….

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