OUR STORY BEGINS IN 1956...
1950s – A modest beginning
The first Penrith licensed club was located in Station Street, Penrith. The Penrith Rugby League Club as it was known then, predominantly served as a ‘young mens’ club’ with some of the funds used to teach the boys sporting pursuits such as football, boxing and gymnastics. In 1956, the first Panthers Club was built on Station Street using volunteer labour, and the club was later granted a liquor licence and six poker machines. The club featured two rooms and a hall for Saturday night dances, special occasions and functions.
1960S – NEW FOUNDATIONS
The sixties ushered a major refurbishment which cost a staggering 150,000 pounds. The club was rapidly growing from an unassuming club of six poker machines to a serious ‘player’ in the already established Sydney entertainment club scene. In 1967, the Penrith Panthers were born into the national premiership league. It was by far one of the most significant eras for Rugby League in Penrith, and Panthers was there every step of the way to support and encourage the team and the community on the road to victory.
1970S – BUILDING THE BASICS
Large investments introduced in the 1970s went towards the implementation of poker machine software and programs to combat security challenges.
The 1970s – 80s brought with it ‘the boom’, which affected Penrith considerably during the 1970s – some of the most significant growth in the region happened during this important decade. Panthers, a mainstay of the community for twenty years at that stage, wanted to make sure that the growing community could enjoy the club as the membership expanded. Nobby Hunter had the honour of breaking the soil for the foundations of the second Club, and over the next few years, Panthers began to take shape.
In the same decade, the first Holden Commodore was introduced (1978) and would have been seen parked on the streets of Penrith for the first State of Origin in 1980 and later filling the parking lot at Panthers World of Entertainment, which opened on our current site on Mulgoa Road in 1984.
1980S – OUR NEW HOME
The Penrith Rugby League Club was reborn, rebuilt and relocated in 1984. This started a new phase on Mulgoa Road as simply ‘Panthers’. Employee numbers tripled and revenue quadrupled. Towards the end of the decade, a man-made water-park, the first in Australia, known today as Cables Wake Park, was established.
1990S – MOVING ON UP
Throughout the decade, Panthers established itself as one of Australia’s premier licensed clubs. It transformed itself into an entertainment palace with over 850 staff.
The Penrith Panthers football team appeared in their maiden NRL Grand Final in 1990. A year later, in 1991, the Penrith Panthers won their first ever Grand Final, led by Greg ‘Brandy’ Alexander and coached by Phil ‘Gus’ Gould.
With the abovementioned success, the leagues club turnover achieve an astonishing $65 million in revenue. With renewed emphasis on management and future planning, the club’s growth was on the rise.
In 1997, the EVAN Theatre was opened, attracting acts such as Cold Chisel, INXS, Midnight Oil, Rose Tattoo and John Farnham, to name a few.
2000S – ENTERTAINMENT PALACE AND GROWING
The new millennium saw the amalgamation of 13 clubs. This made Panthers the largest club group in NSW. Panthers offerings included first-rate live entertainment, a business and exhibition centre, restaurants, bars and adrenalin seeking outdoor and indoor activities.
On 4 October 2006, Penrith Panthers announced a ‘Team of Legends’ – 17 players chosen as the all-time best in 40 years of competition in the top grade of Rugby League. The Team of Legends was chosen by a committee of experts and each of them have played a significant role in making the club what it is today.
PANTHERS TURNED 50!
On Saturday 25 June 2016, Penrith Panthers released their Hall of Fame inductees. Grahame Moran, Royce Simmons, Greg Alexander and Craig Gower have been revealed as the inaugural inductees to the Panthers Hall of Fame. The selection of the four Panthers greats was announced at the club’s 50th Season Gala Dinner in Penrith on Saturday 25 June 2016. The showpiece event was attended by dozens of former Panthers players, including members of the club’s 1991 and 2003 Premiership sides, along with the current NRL squad, staff and sponsors. Phil Gould AM was master of ceremonies for the evening and was joined by rugby league historian David Middleton to reflect on the club’s humble beginnings, greatest achievements and the people who made it all possible. Panthers members and fans were able to watch the Gala Dinner live on the Panthers website, thanks to an exclusive livestream hosted by Tim Gilbert.
BUILDING PANTHER PRIDE IN PANTHERS PRECINCT
2017 was a huge year from a building perspective:
- The $22 million-dollar Panthers Rugby League Academy build was completed and opened in March.
- Construction of The Royce started. The Royce delivers a state-of-the-art retirement village with 113 one, two and three bedroom apartments, as well as a 128-bed aged care facility. The Royce is named after Panthers legend Royce Simmons, and rooms overlook the NRL training field.
In 2017, it was announced that East Side Quarter, a $500 million dollar 850-apartment master-planned development within the Panthers Precinct would commence the following year.
2018 WAS ANOTHER BIG YEAR:
The multi-level undercover car park building ‘P1’ was created, along with a link bridge and new entrance into the club from the new car park building.
Lakeview Bar was renovated as well and the Bottle Shop relocated from here from Players Bar. The main gaming floor and the gaming VIP room received a $2.1 million refurbishment.
In 2018, DA approval was granted for 116 serviced apartments with studio, one, or two bedroom configuration to be built on the western façade of the multi level car park. Developed by Panthers Group. Also in 2018, DA was submitted for the Western Sydney Community and Convention Centre. This includes an entertainment and recreation destination for the community. It would include an exhibition/conference facility for up to 1000 banquet style with dividable spaces, 190 room four-star hotel with a dining offering, rooftop pool and deck, Serviced Apartments, parking for 530 including secure and weather-protected basement parking.
Panthers has become the heart of the west. We have grand plans for the future and we’re very excited about the ride ahead. We hope you’ll join us.