The St George/Illawarra Dragons will play less games at both Win Stadium in Wollongong and Kogarah Oval as the club looks to play more games at Sydney majors stadiums such as the Allianz Stadium, ANZ Stadium and the Sydney Cricket Ground the Sydney Morning Herald is reporting.
The move is sure to upset Dragons supporters, particularly in Wollongong, and must bring into question all of the funding the club has received in recent years to upgrade their traditions home stadiums.
The NRL would like to see Sydney based clubs playing more games at major stadiums. In some cases the move is understandable, with some teams playing at suburban grounds that are simply not up to the standard needed to draw more fans through the gates.
This move is helped along by the fact that major stadiums in Sydney can pay clubs to host games. A club that finds itself in tough times financially can major hundreds of thousands of dollars by moving games to the major stadiums in Sydney. That money is guaranteed up front by the stadium and in many cases Sydney based NRL clubs simply can not turn that type of money down.
While a move away from Kogarah Oval to a major stadium in Sydney makes a lot of sense, the move to axe games from Win Stadium in a concern.
The area is a big supporter base for the Dragons and has provided many of their best players over the years. While the stadium is not great compared to the major stadiums in Sydney, it is an important area for the game.
I believe games in Wollongong should be guaranteed by the NRL for the greater good of the game.
I am all for some teams leaving traditions grounds and moving to major stadiums. It makes sense to move away from certain run down facilities that do not cater for today’s sports attendee. It is not a black and white issue though. All factors need to be taken into account. The positives need to be weighed up against the negatives.
While a move to major stadiums may help the Dragons bottom line, the last thing you want is for it to alienate a major NRL supporter base.
When you consider that we need less teams in Sydney, the idea that you move games away from Wollongong to play more games in Sydney seems to be a strange one. Hopefully the games administrators aren’t just focused on the short term and missing the bigger picture here.
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