Ricky’s View: NRL expansion Part 1 – “Central Queensland”

The first part of many that will assess, oversee and analyse the hotly contested debate of expansion. The first part will look at Central Queensland and just how far they have come since their bid started. For some years now, it has been a topic on the lips of fans and one that has caused heated debate as time has gone by. Just where should the NRL expand to and what areas seem to be the most viable for the NRL moving forward?

This article will provide an overview of the Central Queensland bid and what they can bring to the table, how they have developed and grown as a bid and an a personal view on what they have to offer as a potential NRL expansion team/bid.

    Central Queensland:

If you look across the entire rugby league community, particularly the NRL, Central Queensland is an area filled with untapped potential and vast rugby league hubs and nurseries. With a multitude of juniors from the region currently playing for other rugby league sides, their presence within the rugby league community is firing on all cylinders. With that said, though, does it mean that a Central Queensland bid would suit the NRL’s long-term plans in the future?

The bid itself was started in 2010 and has gained traction and momentum over the last four years. Fronting the bid is CEO Denis O’Keeffe, who is an experienced campaigner in senior management and has vast resources and experience to utilise in their bid to get an NRL team come 2017 or later. Right from the get-go, this was a serious bid as fans across Australia signed a petition to illustrate their support. Additionally, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd signed it and got on board, before former QLD Premier Anna Bligh gave the bid a formal, written commitment to build their own stadium.

As it continued to grow, QR National joined as major sponsor in 2010 and along with the bid themselves, Junior Development programs, school programs and scholarships were initiated/handed out, as the Central Queensland bid sought to get as many young, budding players and fans involved in the sport across the region. As former Premier Anna Bligh left the role, the bid received additional promising news with current Queensland Premier Campbell Newman also providing written commitment to building a new stadium. As of 2012, the bid had 150 corporate partners supporting them.

With the entire region and community getting behind the bid with the aim being to create the right focus and an astute vision for the future, they have one common goal in sight – the formation of an NRL team in Central Queensland. Right now, in the present, Victoria Park has been selected as the official site for the Central Queensland Stadium and Convention Centre.

Ricky’s View: The CQ bid have certainly done well to gather a ton of experience within their back-room staff and create such a promising bid to unite the entire rugby league community across the region. With star power among their corporate partners and a commitment to improving their bid in every possible way, it is clear that the locals – fans, officials and everyone involved – are determined to see a rugby league team in the Central Queensland area. Despite that and despite their developments and work to unify the rugby league community, a team in Central Queensland would, in my view, be something to consider post possible 2017 expansion. Taking nothing away from their bid or the hard work they have put in to get themselves into their current position, the region is not, at this stage, a rugby league heartland that has a rich history and background to back it up. Overall, whilst their bid and development have been impressive over the last four years, my view is that there are a couple of other expansion areas that should be considered first.

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