I really like rugby league.
Regardless of being raised in Canberra, my Queensland kin have ensured I proceed to hold the flames of the Maroons and the Broncos.
I’ve additionally been a card-carrying Raiders member for just a few years now.
I really like the spectacle, the massive hits, the silky footwork, flowing set piece performs and conversions from the sidelines.
Nonetheless, rugby league has issues – and many them. That is the primary of a five-part sequence on rugby league’s troubles from the angle of a passionate rugby league fan, and (doubtlessly loopy) concepts on easy methods to clear up them.
There was initially simply going to be two, however as I mirrored, my checklist of gripes grew to 3, then 4 after which 5. Certainly, as time goes on this may occasionally find yourself changing into a unending serial.
However I digress.
It’s no secret that there was important controversy surrounding the NSW Authorities’s determination to knock down and rebuild the Sydney Soccer Stadium in an try to, nicely, make issues nicer I assume?
Designers of the 80s and 90s in Australia had an odd factor with constructing stadiums that resembled dinner plates extra so than dessert bowls, with the grandstands sitting nicely again from the sector.
I suppose this rebuild is an try to rectify that. I perceive it’s getting outdated, however why they’ve simply not refurbished it’s past me.
This factors in the direction of a broader challenge concerning stadiums in rugby league. It baffles me as to why the NRL persists in having common season video games at Olympic Stadium, and certainly the SFS.
The place is large – terrific for the grand ultimate, State of Origin and different main sporting and music occasions. Nonetheless, throughout the season, the Rabbitohs and the Bulldogs need to play in entrance of an NRL-reported 9000 followers (with everybody realizing it’s nearer to 5000) in a cavern the place any ambiance that exists merely echoes between the empty stands till it whimpers out by way of the gaping roof.
It is usually situated in the course of a large complicated, removed from the unique houses of the groups that now occupy it, with gradual and meandering public transport when you’re making an attempt to get there from anyplace aside from the town.
In the meantime, we now have Leichhardt, Kogarah, Shark Park, Brooky and Penrith all pumping with ambiance just about no matter who’s taking part in, and it’s all taking place in what are little greater than neighbourhood parks.
The areas are good, even when their services are discovered wanting. I really like that groups just like the Sharks and Sea Eagles nonetheless primarily play out of suburban grounds (though the truth that Brookvale Oval stays the principle floor for an expert sports activities staff is a reasonable shame – the place appears terrible).
The NRL needs the glitz and glam of the NFL in the USA – the cash, the massive stadiums, the cash, enormous crowds, the cash. However the market is just not there, and it boils down fundamental economics of provide and demand.
NY city has two NFL groups and a metropolitan inhabitants of some 20 million folks. The Jets and Giants share an 82,000 seat stadium and play eight residence video games a season every year.
That’s two groups, 16 video games, 20 million folks. Demand for the NFL is large. Provide is restricted. The Giants averaged 76,000 spectators at residence final season, the Jets 1000 greater than that, regardless of each having absolute rubbish years.
So right here is my thought, and plenty of is not going to like this. Construct a few 20,000-seat rectangular stadiums, with steep stands virtually on prime of the sector.
Construct one within the south and have the Sharks and Dragons share the house floor, with the Dragons additionally taking part in out of Wollongong.
If I had it my manner, the brand new SFS would solely have a capability of 20,000. Broaden Campbelltown Stadium and have the Tigers transfer on the market completely (I’ll have one other article devoted to relocating groups, so save your anger for that).
Penrith and Parramatta are doing simply positive when it comes to services and Manly, nicely, is a complete challenge in and of itself. The top objective is to restrict provide with smaller however greater high quality grounds.
Then even when 4000 folks flip as much as watch St George Illawarra play the languishing Gold Coast Titans, the place nonetheless breathes slightly. And don’t even contemplate having something aside from the massive video games on the Olympic Stadium.
Over the approaching days I will even suggest that the NRL cease promoting its soul to playing firms and Channel 9, scale back and/or relocate groups, set up summer time applications for gamers to restrict future off-seasons changing into complete practice wrecks – and eventually ending the annual contract circus.