The grand final, which is usually held in the first week of October, could be the first official game in the stadium.
The Herald understands that the NRL has been assured by the state government that test events will occur ahead of the stadium’s “ribbon-cutting”.
“The time between technical completion in July 2022 and the 2022 NRL grand final will be used for testing, commissioning and operational readiness,” a spokeswoman for NSW Infrastructure said.
The prospect of delays in the construction schedule appear heightened given Infrastructure NSW also admitted in the community forum there is a possibility of more asbestos being found on the site as works continue.
A small amount of the hazardous material was found late last year, with developer John Holland hiring an occupational hygienist to oversee the site as a result.
Infrastructure NSW would not answer questions about whether the potential uncovering of more asbestos was considered in the updated timeline.
“A small amount of contaminated material has been found to date, and has been managed in line with the contractor’s remediation action plan,” a spokeswoman said.
Infrastructure NSW also said the pandemic will not add further delays to the stadium, despite shift times altered for workers and increased cleaning on site.
“Work is continuing on site and remains on track to be complete in time for the 2022 NRL grand final,” a spokeswoman said.
The forum also presented an updated design for the stadium, which included more brick features in an effort the blend into the neighbouring SCG.
On Tuesday, Infrastructure NSW released a statement after the project started piling works, the first major structural works from the project.
“Over 1500 piles will be drilled up to 33 metres into the ground, to support this world-class structure,” the statement read.
According to their timeline, construction on the basement to concourse level is set to begin next month.
Last Thursday, Acting Sports Minister Geoff Lee was adamant the stadium would be delivered on time.
“We want NSW to have the best stadiums in the country and this will be a world-class venue with first-class facilities putting fans closer to the action with the best sightlines,” he said. “The new Sydney Football Stadium will seat all 42,500 fans undercover to guarantee a fantastic spectator experience.”
At the end of 2019, the NSW government signed John Holland as the developer with a $99 million blowout to the original budget, with the total cost moving from $830 million to $730 million. The cost also does not include an LED curtain, which clubs say was promised to them at the start of the project.
Sarah is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.