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all Sydney NRL finals should be played at major stadiums

All NRL finals hosted by Sydney metropolitan teams should be played at either Accor Stadium, Allianz Stadium, or CommBank Stadium.

The argument for finals being played at suburban venues such as BlueBet Stadium (Penrith Stadium) and PointsBet Stadium (Shark Park) which occurred in week one of the finals has since been undermined by the scheduling.

Last Saturday night in week two of the finals Cronulla as the official home team hosted their semi-final with Souths at Allianz Stadium, while Penrith will host the Rabbitohs in a preliminary final this Saturday night at Accor Stadium.
Among the reasons given for hosting finals at suburban venues in week one of the finals is to reward teams with superior positions on the ladder.

That argument won out in week one but not weeks two and three of the finals.

These inconsistencies undermine the argument for playing finals at suburban grounds. If home finals are so important for Sydney teams and their fans why weren’t Cronulla hosting Souths at PointsBet Stadium and why is Penrith not hosting their preliminary final against the Rabbitohs at BlueBet Stadium?

Quite rightly these games are scheduled at high-quality venues with excellent facilities and greater seating capacity.
It is for these reasons in week one of the finals Penrith and Parramatta should have played at Accor Stadium or CommBank Stadium and Cronulla’s match with North Queensland should have been at Allianz Stadium.

Does anyone honestly think this weekend’s Panthers v Rabbitohs showdown should be held at BlueBet Stadium with its capacity of 22,500? Of course not. To do so would be bad for businesses with a smaller crowd, less atmosphere, and lower revenues.

Cronulla Sharks Fans (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Yet if this game was scheduled in week one of the finals it would have been held at the foot of the mountains. If officials and fans are so concerned about rewarding teams with superior records why are the minor premiers Penrith hosting their preliminary final at the home venue of their seventh-seeded opponents?

The Sharks v Cowboys golden point final seemed to lack some of the intensity of other finals I think in part due to being held at PointsBet Stadium and with it feeling more like a home and away fixture. Playing the Cowboys at Allianz Stadium would have been a great experience for the Sharks players and their fans. The Sharks may have better handled the atmosphere at Allianz Stadium against Souths had they already experienced playing there the week before.

The NRL should be about growing their crowds by playing at the best venues.

Supporters and officials of Sydney-based clubs should want their teams playing at top-class venues and be prepared to travel that bit further to watch them in major games rather than complaining their team is not playing at a suburban venue.

There is the argument that forcing Sydney-based teams to play at Accor, Allianz or CommBank is inequitable because the Broncos, Cowboys, Knights, Raiders, Storm, Titans, and Warriors play home finals at their stadiums. The difference is those teams are based in towns and cities that have only one purpose-built stadium.

The NRL must take the lead and mandate all Sydney metropolitan home finals are played in the city’s three biggest stadiums.

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