Gone to dirt. Sydney Football Stadium, Moore Park, in limbo after contract fall-out. Photo: Alec Smart

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By VERONICA ANASSIS

Lendlease has been dropped from the rebuild of Sydney Football Stadium, in a sudden vendor shake-up by NSW Government. NSW Infrastructure have abandoned the development giant, for failure to meet the $729 million project’s objectives, and an alleged cost blowout.

Now a giant rink of rubble, only the stadium’s light still stands, up in the air, along with the project’s future. Demolished by Lendlease in early 2019, the site is in standstill, as the Government scramble for a new firm to meet their fast approaching deadline of 2022.

The second stage of the re-build is being taken to tender, still pending, with no comment on when the new builder will be released.  A spokesperson for Mr Sidoti, Minister of Sport, says the budget and finish date will not be compromised, despite the time it’s taking to shop for a new bid winner.

But the disarray of the pull-out is no surprise to Labor, who says this is a major setback and sign of a colossal failure. “Allianz Stadium is now headed for a massive blowout,” said NSW Labor Leader, Jodi McKay. “The stadium debacle is just the latest breakdown between the State Government and contractors on major infrastructure projects.

“Now we just have a great big hole in the ground – with no end in sight.”

A big hole in the ground 

“Lendlease were a courageous choice given their recent history,” Greens MP, David Shoebridge, told City Hub. “The whole project is incompetent, short-sighted and wasteful. This is exactly what we said would happen. The stadium did not need to be demolished. Instead of spending public funds on schools and hospitals the NSW Liberals have now knocked down a perfectly functioning stadium and without having a plan to rebuild it.”

The deadline is still high-stakes, with the Sydney Roosters having signed a 25 year deal to play all home games and finals at Allianz, once it has been successfully rebuilt. The Sydney Cricket Grounds Trust revealed to City Hub that a time delay would not affect the deal with NRL, who have made promises until 2045, and big bucks on the line.

An employee contracted to the construction multi-national told City Hub that do not seem deterred by the fall-out, after having secured multi-billion dollar contracts with a thriving portfolio.

“Lendlease [just] signed $21 billion with Google. Guess the 700 million is nothing.” 

Labor has called out the Liberal government for potentially misleading the public.  The Government initially said they had set-in-stone a one contract deal with Lendlease for the stadium, leading up to the election. But the contract, from the Infrastructure NSW website, reveals Lendlease were only contracted to perform the demolition, Stage One, and merely present an offer for construction, Stage Two, by a set date. The design had not even been proposed, let alone agreed upon.

Project bound in lies

“The Premier and her government went to the election based on a lie,” said Ms Mckay. “They told the people of NSW that they would build a new stadium, they announced that they had signed a contract, and now they are saying that there wasn’t a single contract – so they lied to the public.”

A spokesperson for NSW Infrastructure told City Hub that “there is no cost …with terminating the Stage Two contract,” which was subject to agreement in mid-2019. The Australian revealed that Lendlease may have disputed over their push for a $50-100 million add-on to the existing controversial budget that Liberals put to election.

Lendlease in turn, are making efforts to downplay having fall short of key quotas, stating they amicably completed Stage One.

“We’re pleased to have partnered again with Infrastructure NSW on Stage One of the Sydney Football Stadium Redevelopment project,” said their spokesperson.

Despite the debacle, both Lendlease and Mr Sidoti confirmed this hurdle has not hurt their relationship with the Government.

“Lendlease had good relationships with Government in the past, and will continue to work with them in the future” the spokesperson for Mr Sidoti revealed to City Hub.

For now, the project is left hanging, with no builder in sight or indication of how long it’ll be stalled. Lendlease’s concrete bollards still pave the entrance to neglected site; remnants of what might have been.