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Souths moving to Sydney Football Stadium in 2023


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https://www.watoday.com.au/sport/nrl/home-to-roost-rabbitohs-set-to-take-games-back-to-sfs-in-2023-20220501-p5ahi3.html

The South Sydney Rabbitohs are set to spoil the Sydney Roosters’ homecoming, declaring their intent to end the club’s 17-year presence in western Sydney by returning to the Sydney Football Stadium next season.

South Sydney chief executive Blake Solly on Friday held a meeting with Venues Live, the management company in charge of Sydney Olympic Park’s Accor Stadium, to discuss the terms of their venue arrangement and their potential release.

Sources with knowledge of discussions told the Herald that the Rabbitohs have also indicated to the NRL that their preference is to return to the city at the new 45,000-seat Sydney Football Stadium set to open later in the year.

The Rabbitohs haven’t called the SFS home since 2005, when the club decided to uproot and move to Olympic Park and grow its membership.

The Rabbitohs had originally signed a memorandum of understanding with Accor Stadium to remain in western Sydney long term, however the agreement was made in conjunction with the NSW state government’s pledge to turn the Olympic venue into a permanent rectangular facility.

The government, alongside the NRL, have since redirected the investment into the SFS and suburban grounds

As a result South Sydney have now altered their strategic plan and will begin building their 2023 membership drive around a return to Moore Park barring an unlikely 11th-hour change of tack from government to invest heavily in Accor Stadium.

While Solly said discussions about the deal were commercially sensitive, he outlined what it would take to remain in the west and the vision doesn’t match up with government or the NRL.

“The NSW Government first released a NSW stadia strategy that identified the need for significant investment in Accor Stadium so it could maintain its place as an elite venue for sport in Australia in 2012,” Solly told the Herald.

“Every version of this strategy, funding proposal, investment case and MOU since then has confirmed the need for this investment. Our club have been vocal supporters of investment in sporting infrastructure across NSW, and we understand these decisions are complex with many stakeholders and involving significant investment.

“We aren’t being critical, but believe that after a full decade of strategies, discussions, MOU’s and investment cases, it is time for a definitive conclusion. We want the best match-day experience for our players, members, fans and commercial partners - which will require investment into Accor Stadium, particularly the configuration, seating and facilities in the lower bowl.”

The Rabbitohs have a long-standing connection to the Sydney Football Stadium. The club began playing matches at the venue when it opened in 1988, ending a 40-year reign at Redfern Oval.

The club spent 18 seasons at the ground, sharing the facility with the Sydney Roosters, before former club chief executive Shane Richardson decided to move the club to Olympic Park - a decision which resulted in a significant spike in club membership.

Accor Stadium holds a significant place in the club’s history. It was the scene of their drought-breaking grand final victory over the Canterbury Bulldogs in 2014

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Not a Rabbitohs fan...But next to moving back to Redfern if they were given a stadium there. The Sydney Football Stadium is the closest ground to their traditional home.

Edited by R L Winger

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Not sure they have much option. The Olympic stadium is not suitable or fit for purpose. The bigger question is where does this leave the Olympic stadium, which was already a bit of a white elephant?

Its only going to aggravate the need to sort that stadium out 

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Souths fanbase has spread right across Sydney over the past 40 years, reflecting the shift in demographics the city has seen. That's why the move west worked, alongside of course the upturn in the club's fortunes. That said, anecdotally I know fans in places like Maroubra who just don't like heading out west for games on a regular basis so pick and choose games, and they'll be delighted to see the club return closer to home. The key will be ensuring that fans from across the city can get to/from SFS - I believe that there are transport improvements taking place alongside the stadium redevelopment which will help that. 

"Just as we had been Cathars, we were treizistes, men apart."

Jean Roque, Calendrier-revue du Racing-Club Albigeois, 1958-1959

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