For quite some time, it has been believed that a team should be based in Central Queensland, and this belief is one step closer to becoming a reality, after David Gallop announced that the region was a serious contender on the NRL’s expansion list.
Despite the fact that an Ipswich team has not yet been ruled out, Gallop concedes that the it would be a silly decision to not consider expanding the league to include a team based in Central Queensland.
When it’s come to the issue of expansion, Gallop has remained somewhat quiet, but as he successfully completed a 2-day tour of the area, what they have to offer, and the facilities on hand, the NRL boss came away from the tour confident that there legitimate merit behind the Central Queensland bid.
Whilst the broader issue of expansion won’t be discussed further until 2011, it gives the chance to rival bidders from QLD in Ipswich and the Sunshine Coast to mount a bid despite only having 7 months to do so before a decision is made.
The other major expansion areas have long been touted as the Central Coast and Perth, but David Gallop was visibly impressed with what the Central Queensland bid had to offer, and he was impressed by what they were bringing to the table.
“We may well be at the start of something special for Central Queensland,” said Gallop, who visited CQ strongholds Rockhampton, Gladstone, Emerald and Mackay during the trip.
“Passion is great but you need to put meat on the bone and that’s what Denis (Keeffe, CQ bid chief executive) and Geoff (Murphy) have been doing.
“To take us over Gladstone, show us the massive infrastructure that is going in up here and the industrial growth, it makes you realise that there is meat on the bone in this area.
“We would be mad not to have a serious look at Central Queensland.”
The one roadblock standing in the way of the Central Queensland bid is the lack of a rugby-league built stadium, a situation in which current QLD Premier Anna Bligh is seeking to rectify as she commits to a 20,000 capacity stadium for the region.
“It’s certainly a big part of this bid’s attraction that the people up here are looking for a team in a national sporting competition,” Gallop said.