In some cases you would think a few of the wealthier clubs with key backing would virtually pay any price to secure a premiership if they could. But as financial pressures weigh down on many NRL clubs, more specifically the pokie tax that is hurting the returns from the lucrative gaming machines – NRL clubs are drastically looking for other revenue streams and trying to cut costs where possible.
While at this stage the playing rosters haven’t suffered, over the past few years – some clubs have been chasing the dollar so hard, they have basically walked away from their local home ground and moved their matches to the Homebush Olympic Precint – taking the carrot dangled by the ANZ Stadium Management.
The recent discussions around the Parramatta Eels re-signing to continue playing games out of Parramatta Stadium certainly grabbed headlines. Why would the Eels want to play anywhere else? A modern ground, ideal facilities and located right next door to their large Leagues club. Put simply, the pressue to cut costs and the attractive package offered by the ANZ Stadium group really made the decision a hard one.
It’s reported that ANZ Stadium has offered the Eels as much as $200,000 to play just 2 NRL games at the Olympic Precint this year. After suffering a loss of $4 million last year, the Parramatta Leagues club was also a concern and while separate to the Football club – the cash injection from the Leagues venue is critical to the clubs on-going operation.
While understandably clubs need to ensure their viability, have they weighed up the costs of moving games to ANZ Stadium (formerly Telstra Stadium)? While their might be a guaranteed booty in the bank from each game played there, the fact that the Olympic Stadium is a very ‘neutral’ venue – the decision to play there could cost a home team at least 6 points on the field.
The large ANZ Stadium is too big for crowds under 30,000 people and players cannot hear the roar, cheer or for opposing teams the boo from the crowd. That fear that enemy teams feel when they enter grounds like Brookvale, Leichhardt or WIN Stadium is immediately lost at the vast, quiet ANZ Stadium venue.
When you consider how important home games are, the quick cash grab by clubs could not only be costing their team 2 points every time they lose at the Olympic Venue, but it could be the difference between failing to make the finals and moving on to Grand Final glory.
Even the NRL has remained privately concerned at the amount of Rugby League being moved to ANZ Stadium. The Stadium Australia Group are keen to promote more matches there, as they risk becoming a ‘white elephant’ should the stadium not host regular high profile events.
When you consider that over 30 NRL games are played at ANZ, with the Wests Tigers, Bulldogs, Souths, St George Illawarra and the Eels all playing there – it’s certainly a worrying trend.
Apart from the Parramatta Eels consideration of ANZ Stadium in the past few weeks, spare a thought for the Bulldogs. It seems like centuries ago that the Dogs had their own homeground at Belmore. Toying with the Showground for a while and now back at ANZ Stadium – it’s hardly been a strong fortress for the Canterbury Bankstown team. The Wests Tigers have a different situation, they have the option of two strong home grounds – the melting pot of Leichhardt or the heart of the west at Campbelltown, but both are hardly used and are negated as strong home grounds. Meanwhile,Â opposing teams such as Manly and the Melbourne Storm must be loving the comfort of their own fortresses deep inside their spiritual regions.