Sydney Football Stadium punters offered refunds after faulty seats mar NRL, rugby games
Some fans have been offered refunds after faulty seats marred the opening weekend of games at Sydney's new $800 million stadium.
Punters who attended the first matches at the newly rebuilt Sydney Football Stadium say they were forced to hold their seats up or were thrown forward when they sat down.
Vision emerged of a grounds keeper doing the rounds at the Moore Park venue with an electric screwdriver securing seats at an NRL fixture on Friday night.
The 42,500-seat stadium was only opened to the public on August 28.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet called the $828 million stadium "world-class" at its opening, conceding the state's facilities had not been "up to scratch" in the past.
"This stadium is one of the best anywhere in the world. It provides people the opportunity to be closer to the action — more bathrooms, more food and beverage — so the experience is much better," Mr Perrottet said.
It hosted two games over the weekend, with the Sydney Roosters vs South Sydney Rabbitohs NRL match played on Friday before the Wallabies met the Springboks in a rugby union test match on Saturday.
Ameer Ibrahim, who was at the game on Saturday night, told the ABC he had issues as soon as he sat down.
"They were tilting forward from the moment we got there, and it progressively got worse as the game went on, and we were literally holding up the seats with our feet, almost like doing a wall sit for the first half," Mr Ibrahim said.
"To have a rest from the chairs, we got up and moved around at half-time and then towards the end of the game, we left early.
"I was getting a sore bottom and quads from holding the seat up. The row in front of us was also broken."
Greg Shaw was at the same game and said many of the seats in his row were broken.
"The seats threw us forward and we crouched on our knees," Mr Shaw said.
"Whoever put them in didn't secure them properly, or maybe they can't hold adults because we weren't the only group that had the same problem."
A Venues NSW spokesperson said they have offered refunds to compensate.
"A small number of seats were not affixed correctly. We relocated patrons where possible on the night and have also offered refunds or tickets to future events," the spokesperson said.
NSW Sports Minister Alister Henskens and John Holland were contacted for comment.
The rebuild of Sydney Football Stadium was riddled with controversy since before construction began.
The state government, under ex-premier Mike Baird, had planned to renew facilities at the ground as part of a wider stadiums policy.
In 2017, his successor, Gladys Berejiklian, announced a complete knockdown and rebuild at a cost of $735 million.
Opponents criticised the decision as an unnecessary expense as the original ground had only been built in 1988.
John Holland secured the contract to rebuild the new stadium in December 2019, after Lendlease was dumped as they failed to meet the government's objectives.
By the time construction finished, the stadium's budget had blown out by almost $100 million.
The quality of Sydney's stadiums has recently been at the fore of a stoush between the NRL and state government over the hosting rights for the grand final.
Australian Rugby League Commission chair Peter V'landys threatened to move the final interstate, citing a series of broken promises by the government.
It came to a head after Mr Perrottet reneged on a promise to upgrade suburban grounds in Manly, Cronulla and Leichhardt, saying the funds were required to support people impacted by the floods.
Rugby league boss Peter V'landys says the NRL showpiece will remain in the city of its spiritual home – for now.
Previously, in 2017, the NSW government announced it would knock down and rebuild Stadium Australia as well as Sydney Football Stadium.
But in 2020, the government backflipped on the decision to renew Stadium Australia, instead redirecting the funds towards COVID-19 economic recovery efforts.
The government has also built the $300 million Western Sydney Stadium at Parramatta, which opened in 2019.
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