“With you, I’d dance in a storm” sings Taylor Swift. With rain forecast for Friday, she may have to. The prospect of tens of thousands of drenched fans has prompted fresh calls for a roof on Sydney’s biggest stadium.

The head of Sydney’s major sports and entertainment venues has thrown her support behind a new roof for Accor Stadium, as the looming bad weather threatens to rain on the parade of Taylor Swift’s legions of fans this Friday.

The forecast for Homebush includes a 70 per cent chance of rain on Friday when megastar Swift’s set of Sydney shows will kick off, with the grey clouds reigniting calls for a retractable roof to be installed over the 83,500-seat venue.

And while Swift herself sung “I don’t know why, but with you, I’d dance in a storm”, the prospect of thousands of drenched fans has business figures nervous about the potential harm to Sydney’s tourism reputation.

In a significant boost on Tuesday, the head of Venues NSW threw her own support behind adding a roof to the site, saying the move would make Sydney a bigger player in the international market for superstar acts.

“That will provide a massive competitive advantage actually for New South Wales both domestically and internationally,” Venues NSW CEO Kerrie Mather said in budget estimates on Tuesday when quizzed on the issue.

Rain is expected on Friday for Swift’s first concert at Accor Stadium needs a roof. Pictures: News Corp/Getty Images

Rain is expected on Friday for Swift’s first concert at Accor Stadium needs a roof. Pictures: News Corp/Getty Images

Taylor Swift performs in the rain during The Eras Tour at Gillette Stadium on May 20, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Picture: Getty Images
Taylor Swift performs in the rain during The Eras Tour at Gillette Stadium on May 20, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Picture: Getty Images

“It would certainly enable us to compete very effectively against Melbourne. They have a number of stadiums and arenas with operable roofs and we actually have none.”

 

Ms Mather confirmed a business case for a roof, which was funded by the former government and which will analyse the pros and cons of adding the feature to the stadium, was nearing completion, with a chance it’ll be finished this year.

 

Stadium Australia, now referred to as Accor, was originally built in 1999 with scope for an operable roof to be added, meaning any move now to add the feature wouldn’t require the venue to be demolished.

 

Her support was echoed by former Venues NSW boss and infrastructure supremo Tony Shepherd, who said the Taylor Swift concert demonstrated once again why the city needed a stadium with a roof.

 

A business case on the possibility of adding a roof to Accor Stadium could be finished this year. Picture: Nearmap
A business case on the possibility of adding a roof to Accor Stadium could be finished this year. Picture: Nearmap

“We are so far behind the eight ball when compared to other countries,” he said.

 

“We need a stadium at least with an opening and closing roof. In a city known for such heavy rainfall it is just silly not to have a stadium with a roof.”

 

Only last year comical scenes of ‘Rocket Man’ Elton John’s piano being repeatedly wiped down due to drenching rain at Allianz Stadium were beamed around the world, with Mr Shepherd saying a repeat on Friday could leave Sydney red-faced.

 

“These events have a major positive impact on our economy and yet with the world watching Taylor Swift on Friday night we may have the embarrassment of her being washed out,” he said.

 

Taylor Swift performs during The Eras Tour at Gillette Stadium on May 20, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by TAS Rights Management/Getty Images)
Taylor Swift performs during The Eras Tour at Gillette Stadium on May 20, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by TAS Rights Management/Getty Images)
Business Western Sydney executive director David Borger and Western Sydney Dialogue CEO Adam Leto both said the move was a “no-brainer”.

 

“It’d be great to have a venue in Sydney – whether it be Allianz, Accor or CommBank – where we can attract these global events and de-risk them,” Mr Borger said.

 

“I think Sydney’s a big enough city to have a venue with a roof on it.”

 

Mr Leto said: “The last thing we want is Taylor getting rained out … it’s a no-brainer”.

 

“She should be performing under a retractable roof,” he said.

 

“This is the home of the Olympics, the premium venue in the country – it needs the infrastructure and facilities to support that.”

 

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