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Redfern Stadium to Benefit Entire Community

REDFERN rugby league hopefuls will have a home ground for the first time in almost 80 years when they share Redfern Park and Oval with the South Sydney Rabbitohs writes Lisa Capozzi in the Central of 5th March 2008.

Souths executive chairman Peter Holmes a Court was given a tour of the grounds last week with Lord Mayor Clover Moore and Redfern All Blacks president Nathan Sherriff.

Mr Sherriff said the new facility would give Redfern juniors a home ground for the first time since they started playing in the area during the 1930s.

"The players are stoked - they know they are using the ground the Bunnies use for their training ground, so that gives them some serious bragging rights at school."

Mr Holmes a Court said Souths players and coach Jason Taylor were "blown away" by the facility and couldn't wait to get on the field.

"I think people still underestimate how important this is for the community and the area," he said.

"It's not just an oval, it's a park, a children's play area all in one place.

"The players are also very excited by the kids play area because when their kids come and watch training they used to just sit in the stand, waiting for dad to finish work.

"But now there will be lots of things for them to do, so for them it will be great."

He was impressed by the oval's intelligent design, with the sunken field providing ample viewing space for eager fans.

"If you think about the size of the last grandstand it was three or four times the size of this one, but it had a fraction of the space," he said.

Cr Moore said the facility had seating for 5000 people and temporary seating for another 3000. "It is also important for people who live in Waterloo and Redfern that it is going to be transparent now - they will be able to see the Rabbitohs training, which is terrific for all the new young families"

Meanwhile, Sydney Council said a donation made by Mr Holmes a Court to Cr Moore during a State Parliament election campaign in 2007, had nothing to do with the project.

"All evidence shows that key decisions about the project occurred before Peter Holmes a Court was involved in Souths - in fact, the concept plan for Redfern Park and Oval was endorsed by council in November 2005, while Holmes a Court and Russell Crowe achieved control of Souths in March 2006," a spokesman said.

Photo: Clover Moore and Peter Holmes a Court tour the site of the new Redfern stadium