Restoring confidence in public statements by independently testing and verifying the facts
Did the board of Sydney’s Allianz Stadium rip out fire sprinklers to aid the NSW government’s demolition plan?
By Louise Evans, James Lane & Tiffanie Turnbull
“The SCG Trust said Mr Daley’s claim that the trustees of the SCG had ‘ripped out’ the Allianz Stadium fire sprinkler system ‘under the cover of darkness’ was incorrect. 'The venue was constructed in 1988 and has never had a fire sprinkler system,’ it said.”
NSW Opposition Leader Michael Daley accuses the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) Trust of removing fire sprinklers to aid the planned demolition of Allianz Stadium. March 6, 2019.
NSW Labor leader Michael Daley opposes the state government’s plan to knock down and rebuild Sydney’s Allianz Stadium. Daley accused the stadium’s board, the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) Trust, of aiding the demolition decision by ripping out the stadium’s fire sprinklers “under the cover of darkness”. The SCG Trust disputes the claim. 
AAP FactCheck examined Mr Daley’s claim to determine if the stadium had sprinklers that could have been removed.
AAP FactCheck found no evidence to support Mr Daley’s claim.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced a plan on November 24, 2017 to demolish and rebuild Sydney’s Allianz and ANZ stadiums. 
AAP FactCheck has evidence dated October 14, 2016, and prior to the premier’s stadium demolition announcement, showing Allianz stadium, which opened in January 1988, never had sprinklers. 
The SCG Trust, which operates Allianz Stadium, sent AAP Factcheck an extract of a commercial-in-confidence report which it said “was provided to the NSW Public Works Committee last year, and also provided as part of a (NSW Parliament) Standing Order 52 document capture”. “It was titled 2016 Allianz Stadium Safety, Security and Compliance Audit and was prepared by MI Associates in association with individual discipline experts,” the SCG Trust told AAP FactCheck.
In the report, section 5.2. Fire and Egress Background and Context states “no sprinklers in the building”. One of six “key findings” stated: “Most fire systems are absent, obsolete or compromised. For example there are no sprinklers in the building.”
Under “Recommendations” the report by sport, arts and culture and tourism consultants MI Associates said, “Install automatic sprinkler system and external fire hydrant system. This will require an upgrade to the water infrastructure as the current water supply has insufficient pressure.” The final recommendation is to “provide adequate fire protection measures and systems (including sprinklers, hydrants, detection and alarms) to protect those queuing during through or adjacent to high risk areas such as concessions”. 
AAP FactCheck found three other documents which show the stadium did not have sprinklers.
In a November 23, 2017 document on the stadium redevelopment, the SCG Trust said Allianz Stadium did not “have any fire sprinklers” as it complied with building codes dating back to the mid-1980s. “The building standards of the day mean that Allianz Stadium does not have any fire sprinklers.” 
In June 2018, SCG Trust chief executive Jamie Barkley said there were no sprinklers in the stadium when questioned by a NSW Public Works Committee inquiry.
“In the building code under which it was built they were not required, but you would not go into too many stadiums in the world now and not find a fire safety plan and also fire sprinklers,” Mr Barkley told the inquiry. “To undertake the works necessary for the fire sprinklers is not about putting them in the ceiling ... Even if we had funding, and we had proceeded with it, it would have been an 18-month to two-year project.” 
In September 2018, SCG Trust chairman Tony Shepherd said the case for the stadium’s redevelopment grew from Britain’s Hillsborough inquiry report into the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans. Following the 1990 report, changes were made to the guidelines in the UK’s Green Guide, a government publication on spectator safety at sports grounds.
“The SFS (Allianz Stadium) is deficient against every standard measure or discipline in the Green Guide when it comes to fire and life safety measures, including: no fire sprinklers,” Mr Shepherd said. “Sadly, the Sydney Football Stadium (SFS/Allianz) was designed in the mid-1980s and opened in 1988, long before the Green Guide which grew from the Taylor report and became the global stadium design handbook.” 
Mr Daley’s office did not respond to AAP FactCheck when asked if the opposition leader stood by his claim about sprinklers being removed.
AAP FactCheck concludes Mr Daley’s claim that the SCG board ripped out stadium fire sprinklers under the cover of darkness is false because the stadium never had sprinklers.
- False - The checkable claims are all false.
1: ‘NSW Labor leader Michael Daley in stadium row power play’. By Andrew Clennell and Deborah Cornwall. The Australian. March 6, 2019: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/state-politics/nsw-labor-leader-michael-daley-in-stadium-row-power-play/news-story/5c702fab82fd93d2cc61ee4991fd5b03
2: ‘NSW govt defends $2b stadium rebuilds’, by Perry Duffin. AAP. November 24, 2017: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/nsw-govt-defends-2b-stadium-rebuilds
3: ‘Sydney Football Stadium, Initiative NSW, About Allianz Stadium. The National Trust. https://www.nationaltrust.org.au/initiatives/sydney-football-stadium
4: ‘Allianz Stadium Security and Compliance Summary Report’, By MI Associates. October 14, 2016.
5: ‘Sydney Cricket & Sports Ground Trust - Allianz Stadium redevelopment - key partner question and answer’ (Page 1). Sydney Football Club. November 23, 2017: https://www.sydneyfc.com/sites/syd/files/2017-11/Key%20partner%20stadium%20Q%26A%20.pdf
6: Jamie Barkley, chief executive Sydney Cricket & Sports Ground Trust speaking to NSW Liberal MP Taylor Martin. NSW Public Works Committee - Inquiry into Sydney Stadiums Strategy. (Page 47 and 56-57) June 8, 2018: https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/lcdocs/transcripts/2062/Transcript%20-%208%20June%202018%20-%20Corrected.pdf
7: ‘Sydney Cricket & Sports Ground Trust - Why we are rebuilding Allianz Stadium’. September 19, 2018: https://www.scgt.nsw.gov.au/whats-on/latest-news/the-need-to-rebuild-allianz-stadium/
- First published March 6, 2019 16:25 AEDT