Killing off suburban NRL grounds a shocking idea

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Greg Bird of the Gold Coast Jetstars. (Digital pic by Robb Cox © Action Photographics.)

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Sydney isn’t Melbourne. That’s the perfect length of any argument against a plan to force every Sydney club in the NRL to play games at either Allianz or ANZ Stadium.

South Sydney CEO Shane Richardson floated the idea this week in a bid to take the pressure off clubs who are doing it tough financially in one of the worlds most crowded sporting markets.

This idea works perfectly in Melbourne for the AFL.

All clubs play out of either the Melbourne Cricket Ground or Etihad Stadium.

Suburban headquarters have been turned into facilities where clubs train, recover and go through video analysis.

Collingwood, Carlton, North Melbourne, Melbourne, Richmond and the Western Bulldogs are all within a handball of each other while St Kilda and Essendon are a punt north and south of the city.

It would be like adding six more clubs in and around the Roosters and Rabbitohs.

It makes sense for those AFL clubs to play at the MCG and Etihad, but Sydney is a completely different beast.

Melbourne also has a world class transport system to efficiently get fans to and from these venues.

Sydney doesn’t even have a light rail system from Central Station to Moore Park. 

Parking at the venue is an even bigger nightmare with fans stuck in a crowded grass paddock for hours.

Homebush is also a challenge with game day transport a hit and miss proposition.

The last time I tried to use public transport to get to ANZ Stadium for Monday night football I was told no busses could get me there from my location.

That would’ve been acceptable if I was calling from Dubbo, but this was from Ryde with the stadium a 10-minute drive away down one of Sydney’s major roads.

I was told that i’d have to catch a bus to a train station that was further away from the ground than I currently was. From there it was a train to the stadium.

The journey was going to take 1 hour and 20 minutes each way.

The ground was a 10-minute drive away.

Sound inviting?

Manly fans already displayed their disgust at having to travel away from Brookvale Oval to Moore Park during the NRL finals. How many do you think will travel for a regular season game?

How many Cronulla fans do you think will make the same journey from the south of the city?

Why should parents with children be forced to travel from the Blue Mountains to ANZ Stadium when they could just go to Centrebet Stadium in Penrith?

Richardson claimed match day attendance was down 6% this year. That figure will sky rocket if this plan is put into place.

People have less of the leisure dollar at their disposal. If officials make it harder for families to see a game they won’t bother.

Richardson may be happy for his inner city team to play at Homebush, but I wonder how many Rabbitohs fans actually enjoy their game day experience?

You could have a whole bay to yourself if you wanted as 13-thousand supporters try to create atmosphere in a venue built to host major events.

Supporters already give more than enough of themselves. This is asking too much.

You can follow Luke Doherty on Twitter @Luke_Doherty and on Sky News Australia.

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