Once again we’re hearing talk of the Bears purchasing the Gold Coast Titans and rebranding them as the Gold Coast Bears. And once again there are two schools of thought around the topic.
Some have nostalgic memories of the Bears and want them back in the competition. But plenty of others think it is silly for a former club to take over a current one.
I agree with the second school of thought.
The North Sydney Bears were a foundation club that was around until the end of the 1999 season, when the ARL and Super League formed the NRL, and a lot of the worse-performing either merged or died. So the Bears ‘married’ Manly to form the Northern Eagles.
However that merger didn’t last long and by 2002 the Sea Eagles were back and the Bears were dead.
The fact that they haven’t been in first grade since 1999 means I never saw the Bears play, so I don’t have any nostalgia towards them. However, I must say, their red and black colour scheme was amazing.
But the NRL should not allow the Bears to take over the Titans because there are too many teams in Sydney, to the point where I am confident that one or two of them will have to relocate.
Now, if you allow the Bears to purchase the Gold Coast Titans, they will try their hardest to bring as many games as possible to North Sydney. This is just going to make the overcrowded Sydney problem even worse.
Not only that, it will be a kick in the guts to rugby league in Southeast Queensland. Rugby league has historically failed in the Gold Coast, and after their initial introduction boom, the Titans seemed destined to meet the same fate a year or two ago.
However, the Titans are now a team on the up, both on and off the field. They have their training facilities up to scratch and their team finally has a marketable face. Say what you will about Jarryd Hayne, but he is the marquee player that the Gold Coast have been missing since Scott Prince.
If the NRL allow the Bears to take over, all of that progress would be erased, because a bunch of hold-outs from the 1990s want to see a team with the Bears’ name and logo.
And that is all this would be: it isn’t going to bring back the Bears, it is just going to dress another club up in a bad Bears costume.
Is that what Bears’ fans want? A team to pop up that isn’t actually the team you followed? Because that is what you are going to get with the Gold Coast Bears.
If the NRL wants a club on the Gold Coast it needs to hold firm. It takes years for a team to grow a fan-base, culture and rivalries. Rebranding them as an old team and allowing them to move a bunch of their games away from the place they are trying to establish a team will just mean that people from the area won’t follow them.