Imagine a 20k average NRL season

frullens Roar Rookie

By frullens, frullens is a Roar Rookie


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    In 2012 the NRL released a strategic plan that sim to average 20,000 per game in 2017. Five years on, the average is 15,010 – which is slightly less that the 2012 regular season average of 15,940.

    So what did the NRL do over the last five years to impact on crowds?

    On the plus side, its secured significant investment in three stadiums in Sydney and one in Townsville. However this won’t see an impact on crowds for years to come and especially without a coordinated game strategy for Sydney.

    On the negative side, it signed a TV deal that prioritised TV ratings over crowd numbers, not realising that the creation of or lack of game atmosphere significantly impact TV ratings.

    So where to from here? The NRL needs to get serious about crowds. Firstly, move State of Origin in to three stand alone weekends, it is just a must.

    Secondly the NRL should sit down with each club and develop a tailored five-year crowd strategy that aims to get each club up to 20,000 average by 2022. The draw needs to be based from these club priorities and the NRL fund an comprehensive marketing campaign.

    Those who are below the threshold by 2022 or beyond will need to relocate or forfeit their licence.

    Those who are above the 20k threshold will receive extra funding based on their figures.

    So what are the options that clubs can look at to increase their numbers?

    1. Create events and derbies
    Base the yearly calendar around crowd-pulling events and local derbies. Ideally based around public holidays at crowd friendly times, these games should be on the same date every year. The Anzac Day game is the best example, but there could be many many more.

    2. Take the first two rounds on the road
    Start the season overseas, with double headers staged in eight cities over two live rounds. Preseason camps can be used to help grow the game overseas. Host cities could include London, Manchester, Paris, Barcelona, Toronto, Chicago, Honolulu, San Fransisco.

    2. Reciprocal memberships and game seating
    Make it free for any member of the opposition club to come in. Welcome them in, put them in their own section and encourage them to make an awesome atmosphere. Squeeze everyone into one section, slowly releasing sections with demand.

    Ensure the to cameras are on the opposite side to capture the crowd and atmosphere. The Titans have been great at this of late.

    3. Awesome game day experience
    Make the whole day a great experience for families, young groups, non-leagueies, everyone. The Toronto Wolfpack are leading the way in this, with a craft beer and food truck section at the try line that parties well after game time.

    Throw in a hot dog gun at half time, and there’s a reason why there averaging 7k per game in a city that doesn’t know what rugby league is. AFL do kids day everyone Sunday where kids get in free, with heaps of kids activities.

    4. Adopt a second city
    Adopt a large city without a league team and make them your second home. Bring all your traditionally lowest drawing games. The key here is to make this an authentic adoption, to make sure the sister city buy into it.

    The number of games moved to the second home, will depend on the crowd generated at home. Roosters are now exploring this approach with Central Coast and Adelaide, both drawing above 20k.

    5. Double headers
    Host double headers that will draw 50k. The best example of this is Storm and Manly taking their home games up to Brisbane for there double header. As well as Brisbane – Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth would all be suitable for this approach.

    6. Special ‘local’ experience
    Go back to the suburban ground or the nearby regional town to have an authentic heritage or grassroots experience. Make it an old boys day, wear heritage Jerseys and put a band on at the end of it. Key is to keep this limited to one or two a year to keep its special. Bulldogs back to Belford games are the best example of this, as are the panthers in Bathurst.

    7. Relocation
    Lastly, if the above fails. The club and NRL need to look at relocation. If the support isn’t there, it’s time to find a bigger base to build from. Relocation doesn’t need to be abrupt, it can always include a number of ‘home’ games at the old base.

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    The Crowd Says (129)

    • July 17th 2017 @ 2:55am
      jeff dustby said | July 17th 2017 @ 2:55am | ! Report

      all valid suggestions. Scheduling is also important, thursday night and friday 6 pm is hard in sydney

      lets see how long the toronto crowds last for, also adelaide might just be a one off but worth persisting with

    • July 17th 2017 @ 3:22am
      Phil said | July 17th 2017 @ 3:22am | ! Report

      The problem is something different. Rugby League is a better TV game than live because the action is often located far from many of the fans.

      Australian Rules is the opposite. The ball moves around all the time. It’s great to watch live, but less so on TV because too much is out of shot.

      It’s the real reason the AFL fans flock to the game, not patriotic to the sport or region… just that it’s a better live event.

      • Roar Rookie

        July 18th 2017 @ 10:19am
        Flat White said | July 18th 2017 @ 10:19am | ! Report

        This may be true, and I don’t really know how the tv viewer numbers are counted, but you go to any pub in Melbourne city or inner-surrounding suburbs on a game day, and you cannot find a seat. I’d hazard a guess and say that for every bloke that sits at home and watches a League game on a Sunday, 15 – 20 would be in a Melbourne pub watching an AFL game that could also have 30K-60K at the MCG. AFL fans are patriotic to the sport and the region, go to any train or tram stop on game day and you’ll find out quickly, and it also makes for good television viewing, ask any punter or his 100 or so companions packed into the Young & Jackson on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. The League in Sydney needs to do bucketloads more to entice fans to come in. Halve the ticket prices, improve the amenities, play NSW Cup games before all first grade games and offer local match prices for players and families through their respective clubs.

    • July 17th 2017 @ 5:10am
      frullens said | July 17th 2017 @ 5:10am | ! Report

      For those wondering, below are the 2016 home crowd averages for each club:

      1. Brisbane 33692
      2. Melbourne 18079
      3. North Queensland 16715
      4. Wests Tigers 15390
      5. Canterbury 15202
      6. Cronulla 14578
      7. Newcastle 14457
      8. Manly 14431
      9. Souths 14331
      10. New Zealand 14302
      11. Parramatta 13929
      12. Gold Coast Titans 13806
      13. St George Illawarra 13632
      14. Penrith 12818
      15. Canberra 12183
      16. Sydney Roosters 10235

      • July 17th 2017 @ 9:16am
        Andrew said | July 17th 2017 @ 9:16am | ! Report

        The Roosters have to be the club on the chopping block if anyone is to relocate. That 10k average includes (i assume) 25,000 in Adelaide and over 15k on the Central Coast..

        • July 17th 2017 @ 10:44am
          Mushi said | July 17th 2017 @ 10:44am | ! Report

          Did they play in Adelaide in 2016?

        • Roar Guru

          July 17th 2017 @ 11:37am
          Riley Pettigrew said | July 17th 2017 @ 11:37am | ! Report

          The Roosters are already taking steps to ensure their survival by making plans to operate as a satellite franchise: 6x Allianz Stadium, 3x Central Coast Stadium, 2x Western Sydney Stadium, 1x Adelaide Oval.

          They didn’t play a game in Adelaide last year.

          Their average for 2017 should be a lot higher.
          13,505 vs Bulldogs
          12,376 vs Sea Eagles
          40,864 vs Dragons
          10,467 vs Eels
          12,236 vs Broncos
          21,492 vs Storm
          20,060 vs Sharks
          16,245 vs Rabbitohs

          That’s an average of 18,406 from 8 games.

          Their last 4 home games are against: Knights (Friday 6pm), Cowboys (Saturday 7.30pm), Wests Tigers (Saturday 5.30pm) and Titans (Saturday 3pm) so that average may look a little worse by season’s end.

          • Roar Rookie

            July 17th 2017 @ 11:52am
            At work said | July 17th 2017 @ 11:52am | ! Report

            What were the Roosters doing well in 2013 in order to average 19,378 playing their game at Allianz though.

            Yes they were the best team in the comp, but they’ve been a top team for a while now so it shouldn’t be purely team results.
            Becoming a satellite team is a slippery slope which they’ll do irreparable damage IMO..

            • July 17th 2017 @ 12:50pm
              mushi said | July 17th 2017 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

              And yet financially they seem to be doing fine?

              Perhaps it’s because focusing on “bums one seats” is so outdated in the modern media business model that now extinct record companies sneer at it being backward?

              • Roar Rookie

                July 17th 2017 @ 3:23pm
                At work said | July 17th 2017 @ 3:23pm | ! Report

                Mushi yes the Roosters have always been strong financially, but are they as strong as they once were? Why else would they be moving home games to other locations if not to receive payments from the local councils.

              • July 17th 2017 @ 5:18pm
                Andrew said | July 17th 2017 @ 5:18pm | ! Report

                Maybe you are right. Maybe there model looks at the $25 for parking and they figure that is more profitable than charging less for tickets to the game and getting a bigger crowd which means more concession stands, cleaning, staffing etc….

          • July 17th 2017 @ 12:17pm
            Andrew said | July 17th 2017 @ 12:17pm | ! Report


            Those stats, to me, could be used by someone looking for reasons to relocate a club and choosing the Roosters. 40,000 was Anzac Day, so an anomaly over a season, and their next two biggest crowds are outside Sydney. Crowds of 13k, 12, 10k against good drawing clubs like Manly, Bulldogs, Broncos and Eels isn’t good for a team that has been in the top 3 all year.

            • July 17th 2017 @ 1:34pm
              mushi said | July 17th 2017 @ 1:34pm | ! Report

              Does the money currently going into the roosters follow across to the relocated venue or does the NRL cut off one of the richest areas in the city for bums on seats?

              It seems the two anti roosters angles are they don’t have fans so are blight or they have too much money and are breaking the game.

              So either they are just exponentially better run or there is some kind of economic benefit for rugby league being tied to Eastern Sydney.

          • July 17th 2017 @ 1:07pm
            kk said | July 17th 2017 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

            Pettigrew posts are always informative.

            It would be great to see the Roosters at Gosford for a treble
            Cronulla, Manly,Canterbury in 2018.

            Cronulla and Manly hold the crowd high @ 20,060 and Canterbury
            would draw at least 15,000. Proven interest.

            • Roar Guru

              July 17th 2017 @ 1:22pm
              Riley Pettigrew said | July 17th 2017 @ 1:22pm | ! Report

              Agreed MAX, that combo would be great to see. Even the Knights would be a strong draw card, there was a period in the early to late 2000s when they played annual fixtures against each other up here I believe.

              The Saturday arvo timeslot was perfect for the game, a massive crowd between two premiership forces from Sydney on a sunny day, it seemed the temperature didn’t drop a degree until after the siren.

              For the Roosters’ 3 home games next year I think they could draw crowds upward of 18,000 in any timeslot other than Thursday night given they don’t bring teams like the Titans, Cowboys and Warriors.

      • July 17th 2017 @ 9:23am
        ac said | July 17th 2017 @ 9:23am | ! Report

        Thanks for this – it tells us story. Why are the Roosters never mentioned as a club which should be relocated or merged.They are so small in what they do. Souths and Easts are surely a perfect fit South-east. Then a team to Perth. The issue i see is that AFL does the game day so well. The teams go out on the Oval and do their warm ups and play up to the crowd. The multiple number of sirens going off causes anticipation. The fact that after the game the winning team song is played and the crowd gets involved. I still like the idea of 4 20 minute quarters. When they are kicking for a conversion the CLOCK is stopped. I hate to say it but the AFL has it all over the NRL in these areas and thats why people go. I would love to see a 20,000 average – just cant see it happening.

      • Roar Guru

        July 17th 2017 @ 11:05am
        XI said | July 17th 2017 @ 11:05am | ! Report

        So one team is over the target? Does that mean that if most of them don’t reach the target, the League should relocate 4-6 teams? That doesn’t seem like a practical approach.

        • July 17th 2017 @ 1:41pm
          mushi said | July 17th 2017 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

          Even if every team grew attendance by 4 x popualtion growth you’d just have a little tri series between between Melbourne, Brisbane and NQ (though NZ might sneak in if you use some of the more bullish population growth forecasts)

      • July 17th 2017 @ 2:57pm
        fifo said | July 17th 2017 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

        I don’t believe those numbers. They are rigged by the NRL…

        • July 19th 2017 @ 2:27pm
          mantra said | July 19th 2017 @ 2:27pm | ! Report

          Some of those crowds at ANZ recently were generous to say the least

        • July 19th 2017 @ 3:44pm
          Crosscoder said | July 19th 2017 @ 3:44pm | ! Report

          They used the GWS calculator perhaps.

          or the same counters as per Brisbane and the GC.

        • July 19th 2017 @ 3:45pm
          Crosscoder said | July 19th 2017 @ 3:45pm | ! Report

          OK fifo.Please provide the evidence.For a start the NRL does not provide crowd figures club do.

          • July 19th 2017 @ 4:55pm
            mantra said | July 19th 2017 @ 4:55pm | ! Report

            Even RL diehards were questioning the numbers which were small anyway. Clubs have owned up to counting their reserved ticket holders even when they don’t turn up

            • July 19th 2017 @ 5:16pm
              Crosscoder said | July 19th 2017 @ 5:16pm | ! Report

              In the past.And the other code has also been caught out on grassroots numbers and crowds.In fact looking ta crowds over 4 codes at times<the LOLs are in full flight.

      • July 18th 2017 @ 12:57am
        GWSingapore said | July 18th 2017 @ 12:57am | ! Report

        Take Brisbane out of the equation and what a drop. Even with Brisbane included the median rather than average drops to 13.5 thousand. Small beer.

    • July 17th 2017 @ 5:13am
      Craig said | July 17th 2017 @ 5:13am | ! Report

      I like the idea of making it free for members of other clubs. They need to create a culture of going to live footy. Make it affordable and a habit, then they can look at more revenue. Open the gates.

      • July 17th 2017 @ 2:06pm
        KenW said | July 17th 2017 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

        Free might not make sense economically but even half-price would be a great incentive.

        Of course for teams at ANZ, where financial overheads are tiny and space is effectively limitless (in club terms), maybe the free for opposite members deal would work well.

    • July 17th 2017 @ 7:04am
      Crosscoder said | July 17th 2017 @ 7:04am | ! Report

      Needs decent scheduling .mainly family friendly .Thursday 8pm and Friday 6pm are simply not so.Supposedly the NRL gets to control the scheduling (currently tiger TV controls the pick of the games)from 2018.That is a start.

      An example yesterday at a packed Brookvale in a yesteryear stadium, families everywhere, game quite entertaining.With decent facilities and stands ,who knows? Instead of the 14,000 plus crowd, they may have cracked near 20,000.

      Getting the new Parramatta Stadium in place and a reconfigured rectangular ANZ stadium should further assist.

      The big unknown of course, would a 2nd Brisbane side help lift averages to the 20,000 mark.

      There is nothing worse than seeing grounds either half empty or as in the case of ANZ,seeing more seagulls than people in the stands.

      Pricing is another factor,Sydney is a damn expensive city and families in a lot of cases are selective as to what they can afford in entertainment.The NRL needs ti grab this fact and work on it.
      Then players should also be aware, their performances on the field and in some cases off the field can influence people attending.
      So much money has been wasted by rugby league administrations over the years, that could have been spent on growing the spectator base and grassroots.

      Here endeth my rant.

      • July 19th 2017 @ 2:29pm
        mantra said | July 19th 2017 @ 2:29pm | ! Report


        Funny how there is no mention of the ex Tiger Daine Laurie murder charge in the SMH today even though they have an affiliated paper in Coffs and the DT has it

        • July 19th 2017 @ 2:47pm
          Crosscoder said | July 19th 2017 @ 2:47pm | ! Report


          I dont; consider anything of such a nature funny ,whether it be an assault or murder involving a player of any code.And I could, but won’t go into specifics of all codes.

          It no doubt will come out, via the usual code in crisis ,by the likes of ch10 at the forefront.

          The press here was too busy making a meal of Dugan and Ferguson’s antics.
          Seriously mate ,if that’s your debating material, on a guy who is not employed as a player by the NRL Do past players from your code commit terrible acts post career? From what i’ve read it happens.I hate it TBH.

          BTW the SMH is hardly a a NRL friendly paper.A paper that is struggling to pay its employees ,.and has succeeded in offloading quite a few.A couple of whom I believe are now working for the NRL digital dept.
          You take it up with them.

          • July 19th 2017 @ 4:57pm
            mantra said | July 19th 2017 @ 4:57pm | ! Report

            My point is that you claim the Media is against RL eg in Melbourne and here apparently as well but somehow you are selective and only choose what you want to believe or see and turn a blind eye to the rest. Not rational analysis.

            • July 19th 2017 @ 5:17pm
              Crosscoder said | July 19th 2017 @ 5:17pm | ! Report

              Last reports Nth Coast is not Melbourne.Silly point mantra, but typical.
              I suggest you have a.look at Sydney papers of late ,you write a lot of crock TBH.
              And I’m drawing comparisons between Sydney and Melbourne ,AFL v NRL.Again you have missed the boat.

              • July 19th 2017 @ 6:12pm
                Mantra said | July 19th 2017 @ 6:12pm | ! Report


                No evidence just abuse. Heres evidence – No Daine laurie in SMH yet

              • July 19th 2017 @ 6:58pm
                Crosscoder said | July 19th 2017 @ 6:58pm | ! Report

                In fact it was attempted murder not murder,but still bad.And this person had finished in the NRL 6 years ago.Current NRL relevance zero.

              • July 20th 2017 @ 7:06am
                Crosscoder said | July 20th 2017 @ 7:06am | ! Report

                But ,but your supposed to live in Melbourne and have no idea what is in the Sydney media.Now you are on the Nth Coast so you also have no idea.
                Here’s a tip.
                You have no idea, go chase shadows,

              • July 20th 2017 @ 12:07pm
                Mantra said | July 20th 2017 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

                So according to your recent logic you have to live in the city to understand how the media work.

              • July 20th 2017 @ 1:47pm
                Crosscoder said | July 20th 2017 @ 1:47pm | ! Report

                I refuse to go into a debate against an unarmed opponent.Chiao

              • July 20th 2017 @ 1:57pm
                Crosscoder said | July 20th 2017 @ 1:57pm | ! Report

                In fact your”logic’mantra.You stated have to live in a city to know what’s going on in the media.It’s come back to bite you.

    • July 17th 2017 @ 8:21am
      Eden said | July 17th 2017 @ 8:21am | ! Report

      The worst thing I see is that the clubs still use staggered pricing. The best seats in the middle are premium and then 1 or 2 categories until we get general admission behind the try line. Even at ANZ and Allianz where there are empty seats everywhere we see the general admission seats are behind the try line or even behind the deadball line.

      Ive been to around 100 matches in my life, only 3 or 4 at any seat inside the 20m lines. The experience is mich better but not affordable especially with a family now. I took my family of 4 and 2 nephews to a roosters match at central coast. 10k people and yet we were forced to sit in the blazing sun next to empty, shaded bays. Needless to say my wife and kids aren’t very interested in going again.

      If crowd numbers are more important than dollars then simply open up the bays to general admission.

      Second point is the NRL shoyld have public transport included in all pre purchased tickets.

      Just imagine that for $50 you can catch a free train with 2 adults 2 kids and sit on the 30m line, surrounded by other families and fans and creating an amazing atmosphere.