Suburban grounds must go
101 Have your say
View of Manly vs South Sydney from the stands at Brookevale Oval (Image: WikiCommons)
Definitely my favourite topic to follow right now: the plight of the old suburban grounds.
The ARLC has set a target of 20,000 spectators at an average NRL game by 2018.
Let’s all say it out loud and exhale: the only way to significantly grow crowds is to move to bigger stadia.
A packed house at Leichhardt, as special as that is for long-time fans of Wests Tigers, is alienating for potential new fans of the game, with no parking, poor service and third-world food and toilets.
Yes, ANZ and Allianz may be underwhelming to look at when half full, but may I remind diehard fans that a sparsely filled ANZ Stadium can still mean 30,000 people showing up – exactly what we need to raise average crowds to 20,000.
Everything about the old grounds speaks to diminishing returns with regard to economics, marketability and the potential for growth.
I’m prepared to live with some initial pain to take rugby league where it needs and wants to go; one only has to look at the burgeoning numbers of members to see that the Leichhardts, Kogarahs and Brookvales of this world are a shoe size too small for the game’s footprint in 2013.
The transformation is inevitable. What would make it easier is to address the other problem, which no one wants to talk about: further rationaliwation of Sydney clubs and the strengthening of a second-tier competition which could keep traditional Sydney clubs that do not survive rationaliwation in their current form.
But no one wants to discuss that. Except perhaps Dave Smith, a man free of the old constraining ‘loyalties’ that so often hamper the game’s expansion. Which is why I’m glad John Grant hired him.