Killing off suburban NRL grounds a shocking idea

Luke Doherty Roar Guru

By Luke Doherty, Luke Doherty is a Roar Guru

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83 Have your say

    The Gold Coast Titans take on the Eels in Darwin. (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.

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    The Crowd Says (83)

    • April 6th 2012 @ 1:17am
      turbodewd said | April 6th 2012 @ 1:17am | ! Report

      Ultimately what Richardson wants to do is increase crowds – we all want this. But the NRL needs to do a whole bunch of things to improve crowds.

      1. Better timeslots – MNF sux.

      2. Regional derbies should be twice per year. The Qld teams should always meet twice per year, when Qld plays Qld you get great crowds. And Parra should always play the Bulldogs twice per year.

      3. Game day experience is too short. NRL games are over in 90min – its just not worth the effort sometimes. UFC, AFL, cricket, NFL, men’s tennis – all these sports go for much longer. And the game really only goes for 55-57 minutes due to time lost when the ball is dead or time lost after tries, penalties, drop goals. Make them play 80 minutes! Mind you, to compensate, they will need 2 minute drink breaks in the middle of each half. Bingo, now the contest goes for 120 minutes.

      4. Too many games. NRL games are background noise in our lives, theyre on ALL. THE. TIME. 26 rounds, 4 rounds of playoffs. No, trim that to 20 rounds or 22 and just 3 rounds of playoffs.

      5. NRL product constantly changing. Playing rosters these days are almost totally different 2-3 yrs later. Jerseys change almost yearly. And now teams are wearing strange socks regularly – witness last week the Gold Coast Titans wearing brown socks dedicated to Men of League – wtf?!

      6. No set draw that people can plan for.

      There is just so much that could be done to fix things.

      • Roar Guru

        April 6th 2012 @ 3:48am
        peeeko said | April 6th 2012 @ 3:48am | ! Report

        1- i hate it when my team plays monday but it gets huge tv ratings and thus a bigger tv contract
        2- love the regional derbies idea but i can see some people complaining that some teams will be disadvantaged
        3- agree,
        4 – less games equals less tv rights
        5 – agree, tradition is some thing we need to promote by keeping same jerseys
        6- its already set 6 weeks ahead, we run the danger of having dud games in premier timeslots

        • April 6th 2012 @ 10:03am
          turbodewd said | April 6th 2012 @ 10:03am | ! Report

          1 – yes, but now we are teaching our fans not to attend games and it ruins the credibility of the sport when noone attends the game itself.

          4 – not so. SOO generates enormous value from just 3 games. Quality utterly trumps quantity.

          • April 6th 2012 @ 11:22am
            B.A Sports said | April 6th 2012 @ 11:22am | ! Report

            Agree 100% There are too many rounds. Quality trumps Quantitiy. Fewer games, makes every game more important, means people take more interest. You have more people watch making the advertising more valuable. And how often do we see two full strength teams going up against each other? Almost never. The more you play th emore likely players will be injured or suspended.

      • April 6th 2012 @ 10:33am
        Ned said | April 6th 2012 @ 10:33am | ! Report

        1: I love MNF, it is great on TV through fox sports and it is great to have experts talking about the round that was. The presentation of MNF puts nines coverage to shame.
        4: I’d rather footy went all year, the summer break sucks. Every team should play each other twice the current draw is uneven.
        5: agree the jersey thing annoys me too.
        6: totally agree. If the next TV agreement allows the broadcaster to pick the games, the league is doomed.

        The NRL should realise that having cheap tickets and a good crowd is more valuble to its product that allowing large stadiums to set the ticket price or do special deals with clubs that result in no-one at the ground to watch.

        • April 6th 2012 @ 9:50pm
          M-Rod said | April 6th 2012 @ 9:50pm | ! Report

          picking up on the jerseys, it is absolutely ridiculous with the variations clubs are allowed…I don’t even recognise the Warriors or Penrith any more… a few weeks ago the warriors played in some weird black/ speckled green pattern…NRL has a complete loss of brand control on its hands… clubs must respect supporter loyalty that their uniform represents history and values, and is not some opportunity for a marketing club exec to try out some new fashionable trend… sort it NRL!!!

          • April 6th 2012 @ 10:57pm
            Epiquin said | April 6th 2012 @ 10:57pm | ! Report

            Yeh its a bit of a joke. My old man was watching a game one night in the club and couldnt see the scoreboard. Hes a life long footy fan and yet he couldnt even tell what teams were playing.
            says it all really…

    • April 6th 2012 @ 1:36am
      NF said | April 6th 2012 @ 1:36am | ! Report

      The most important thing is to push membership and attendances with a set draw. The rolling draw only panders to the networks not the supporters of the game.

      • Roar Guru

        April 6th 2012 @ 3:44am
        peeeko said | April 6th 2012 @ 3:44am | ! Report

        the set draw will result in game sof little interest to the public being shown in prime time. friday night football is the games weekly showcase and having 14th play 15th is not goning to get you big tv contracts or many people watching especially close to the finals.

        • Roar Guru

          April 6th 2012 @ 1:10pm
          Redb said | April 6th 2012 @ 1:10pm | ! Report

          That’s the price you pay, but for members it’s great. We each get a fridge magnet with every game, opposition & venue for the whole season.

      • Roar Guru

        April 6th 2012 @ 6:23am
        mds1970 said | April 6th 2012 @ 6:23am | ! Report

        If you want to increase memberships, this one’s a must. It makes it so much easier to plan your lives when you know when your club’s games are.
        As an AFL fan, I can give anyone planning a wedding, party, conference, weekend away or other event where my presence is required a list of dates to avoid the previous October, and can decline any invite that clashes. Also can book flights and accommodation for intestate trips when there are cheap fares on offer. NRL fans only find out when the games are a few weeks ahead, and by then it’s too late.

      • April 6th 2012 @ 1:02pm
        Whites said | April 6th 2012 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

        At least fix the first 20-22 rounds and then half way through the season fix the last 4-6 rounds to ensure the big games are on free to air. One the things AFL fans can do do is schedule away trips to Sydney or the Gold Coast over 6 months in advance to see their team play.

    • Roar Guru

      April 6th 2012 @ 3:50am
      peeeko said | April 6th 2012 @ 3:50am | ! Report

      Has anyone got a running total of how much government money has gone into developing suburban grounds eg camppbelltown, kogarah, cronullam illawarra etc. From memory when dragons moved to the SFS in the early 00’s crowds really suffered

    • April 6th 2012 @ 5:58am
      sheek said | April 6th 2012 @ 5:58am | ! Report

      Funny thing,

      During last week, I was thinking the exact opposite – wouldn’t it be wonderful if clubs could get back to playing at suburban grounds.

      My motivation is about “de-corporatising” sport. I think it has become too much in the pocket of large corporations.

      I admire the AFL. Club membership has always been a big thing with them. Play attractive footy, & encourage fans to become members. To me, this is what sport is really about.

      Sponsorship & TV rights should enhance a sport, but not come to dominate it.

      • Roar Pro

        April 6th 2012 @ 6:51am
        crip said | April 6th 2012 @ 6:51am | ! Report

        I was thinking the same thing Sheek.

      • April 6th 2012 @ 10:59pm
        Epiquin said | April 6th 2012 @ 10:59pm | ! Report

        So simple.
        I wonder why its gone over so many heads…

    • April 6th 2012 @ 6:41am
      chris said | April 6th 2012 @ 6:41am | ! Report

      I hate the modern tight round neck jerseys and can not see them selling well compared to the traditional v neck jerseys of yesterday.;

      • Roar Pro

        April 6th 2012 @ 6:53am
        crip said | April 6th 2012 @ 6:53am | ! Report

        And what about all the advertising on the jerseys. They look like the junk mail in my letterbox.

        • April 6th 2012 @ 10:05am
          turbodewd said | April 6th 2012 @ 10:05am | ! Report

          Absolutely. NRL jerseys look absurd with all these multi-colored patches and in the past couple of years theyve started occasionally wearing weird colored socks for various causes, some of which are strange. Men of League brown socks the Titans wore last week!!?

          • April 6th 2012 @ 10:29am
            Allsports said | April 6th 2012 @ 10:29am | ! Report

            And why can’t jerseys have the players name on them? I know its to do with sponsors and all that but its annyoing when you see most other team sports in the world that have it.

            • April 6th 2012 @ 10:59am
              joe blackswan said | April 6th 2012 @ 10:59am | ! Report

              AFL and rugby don’t have players name’s on their backs…..not sure about soccer (FFA soccer) though. Personally, I don’t see a need for it.

              • April 6th 2012 @ 11:29am
                Allsports said | April 6th 2012 @ 11:29am | ! Report

                A- league jerseys have names. It would make identifying players easier, especially at stadiums like ANZ where the crowd is so far from the action.

              • April 7th 2012 @ 12:26am
                Jack Russell said | April 7th 2012 @ 12:26am | ! Report

                Surely if you can’t see the number you won’t be able to read the name…..

              • April 7th 2012 @ 2:30am
                Nathan of Perth said | April 7th 2012 @ 2:30am | ! Report

                Depends on if you remember who has what number.

          • April 6th 2012 @ 11:11am
            sheek said | April 6th 2012 @ 11:11am | ! Report

            It might get to the stage where jerseys are so full of sponsorship, you won’t know the colours anymore, & club names will become irrelevant.

            It will be Etihad-Mars Bar-Computer Associates playing Emirates-Tooheys-AGL at Westpac-AIG stadium.

            Who…? What…?? Where…???

            Why do people allow this to happen – the erosion of history & tradition? To say money is the root cause of all our problems is simplistic. Why are people so morally weak that they allow their value system to be devalued so easily??

            So many fans would like to see an ordily arrangement of sponsorship that is less visible on playing strips. So why do we allow it to happen? And stadiums named after sponsors? So where is ANZ Stadium? Or Etihad Stadium?? Or Westpac Stadium???

            There’s a big horse race run today at Rosehill. For racing purists, it would be one of the big 3 horse races on the Australian calender (with WS Cox Plate & Australian Cup) – a wfa race over 2400m. Gut wrenching.

            But the race has been known for years as the BMW. It’s real name is the HE Tancred Stakes. So why not call it the BMW Tancred Stakes? It makes sense. This way yoy keep the original name, plus you have the spnsor’s name.

            I can’t remember if ANZ sponsors SFS or Stadium Australia. In either case, it should ANZ SFS, or ANZ Stadium Australia. Makes perfect sense to me.

            • Roar Guru

              April 6th 2012 @ 1:08pm
              Redb said | April 6th 2012 @ 1:08pm | ! Report

              Couldn’t agree more on over commercialisation of sport, particularly teams. The Rabobank Rebels is how our Melbourne team is promoted on radio.

              • April 6th 2012 @ 3:26pm
                Crosscoder said | April 6th 2012 @ 3:26pm | ! Report

                And of course the QBE Swans in Sydney

              • Roar Guru

                April 6th 2012 @ 3:41pm
                Redb said | April 6th 2012 @ 3:41pm | ! Report


                Don’t like it.

                Qantas Wallabies or Socceroos also a shocker.

              • April 6th 2012 @ 3:54pm
                NF said | April 6th 2012 @ 3:54pm | ! Report

                or the Toyota North Queensland Cowboys.

              • Roar Guru

                April 6th 2012 @ 11:35pm
                mds1970 said | April 6th 2012 @ 11:35pm | ! Report

                Or the HSBC Waratahs.
                I’ve heard it suggested that HSBC stands for Humiliating Score By Crusaders…..

              • April 7th 2012 @ 12:15am
                Nathan of Perth said | April 7th 2012 @ 12:15am | ! Report

                At least when they’re talking about the Western Force it’s only Emirates Western Force, not just Emirates Force.

            • April 7th 2012 @ 12:17am
              JVGO said | April 7th 2012 @ 12:17am | ! Report

              The thing is that sport is actually a cultural phenomenon, not an economic one, originally based on geographical representation and community participation. But it has been hijacked by commercial imperatives and interests. There is an inate conflict here. The code war is really about the battle for market share and the dominance of the market. In this commercial contest administrations acting in the manner of corporations are prepared to harm or destroy their competitors which amounts to destruction of people’s culture and community. People need to fight for the preservation of their community and culture against corporatist economic practice. The idea that corporations should be free to act entirely in their own interests is a fallacy, they need to act responsibly respecting cultural boundaries.

              • April 7th 2012 @ 2:38am
                Nathan of Perth said | April 7th 2012 @ 2:38am | ! Report

                Agree with a lot of this. The corporate intrusion and power into sport must be balanced.

              • April 7th 2012 @ 3:05am
                JV said | April 7th 2012 @ 3:05am | ! Report

                1st step is to get rid of millionaires owning football clubs.

    • April 6th 2012 @ 6:47am
      oikee said | April 6th 2012 @ 6:47am | ! Report

      It is common sense to play bligger games between 2 Sydney rivals at the bigger grounds. The out of town teams can then use the local stadiums which gives most teams a home advantage anyhow.
      I can see what they are trying to do, i brought this up 3 years ago, when Brisbane started to play the double headers. This is another idea that really needs to be looked at. The other day someone mentioned a gold coin cost to get into the second game. What this means before anyone goes off half cocked. You pay to see your team play, this could be the dogs let’s say against Souths, then with the second game you can pay a dollar or 2 dollars to watch the second game along with their fans. This means the crowds bigger, the big stadium fuller, you get a good deal, the game gets a good deal, it is win win.
      The Double headers are a great idea, playing at your home ground is great as well, lets say Tigers verse Cowboys, Leichart would be full and you still have that tribal feel.

      Anyhow, it is a good idea, they must have been working out the syastem for awhile now, they have it ready to submit to the commish.

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