Sydney’s new football stadium will name a stand in honor of NRL legend Arthur Beetson after a recommendation which saw him snubbed was overturned.
NSW Sports Minister Stuart Ayres will reject a recommendation from Venues NSW’s government-appointed heritage committee, which wanted to call the Garrison Stand to mark the ground’s military heritage.
But there was plenty of backlash when a leak of the proposed name sparked an outcry from Beetson’s family, former players and an overwhelming poll of fans who wanted the stand named after the Roosters and NRL Immortal legend.
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This prompted Venues NSW chairman Tony Shepherd to come to the defense of the heritage committee.
Shepherd said the committee was full of “good people who were treated unfairly by elements of the media.”
“It would be a really proud moment for our family,” Beetson’s son Mark said after being told of the Ayres’ decision.
“Dad was up there alongside Cathy Freeman and Lionel Rose as Indigenous sports icons,” he said.
The Trust is named after fellow Rooster Ron Coote, footballing legend Johnny Warren and rugby icon Sir Nicholas Shehadie. But Garrison’s final choice was taken as a snub to Beetson.
Maurice Newman, chairman of the Heritage Trust, explained at the time that he “rejects any suggestion that Artie Beetson has been snubbed”.
“Obviously we considered a lot of names and Artie Beetson didn’t make it. He’s basically a Queenslander,” Newman said.
But he felt he had to come to the defense of the heritage committee and explain the long military association that enabled the construction of Sydney’s new football stadium and the choice of the garrison name.
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“The land on which Sydney Football Stadium is being built was owned by the military until 1986,” he said.
“To say there is no connection is to deny the story.
Sydney Cricket Ground was established by troops from nearby Victoria Barracks in the 1850s and was called the Military Ground before it became the SCG.
It’s unclear whether a proposal to honor Beetson with a $300,000 bronze statue at the front of the new stadium will ever be accepted.
Mr Ayres is said to have opted for the Beetson stand after debating whether to call him Garrison, but has yet to make an official announcement.
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