Will Ricky’s call be a game changer in the campaign for a new stadium in Civic, and could the removal of selected home games away from Canberra boost the Brumbies bottom line?
On the weekend, the Raiders and the Brumbies played games on consecutive nights, at a new stadium. It was, of course, at Parramatta Stadium against the Wests Tigers and the Waratahs.
If nothing else it provided both teams and Chief Minister Andrew Barr with first-hand insight into what might be possible with a new stadium in Canberra.
Plenty has to fall into place for that to happen, including a resolution on the future of the existing Canberra Stadium and the state of the ACT Government’s finances. Added to the mix is the need to ascertain the desire (or otherwise) of the Government to build a new stadium.
From my observation, the game changed a little over the weekend with Raiders coach Ricky Stuart publicly entering the campaign for a new stadium saying, as the nation’s capital, Canberra deserves it.
Ricky’s entry into the campaign makes things interesting, given his popularity and profile in Canberra through his football feats and his charity work.
Ricky’s comments also have the potential to move the proposal onto the radar of avid rugby league supporter, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who may have been reluctant to look at the proposal in the past because it was considered very much an ACT issue.
Funding for the new stadium in Townsville is evidence enough of the power of a football club, players and the community all campaigning together for the same outcome.
The benefits to Canberra will be enormous and not confined to spectator comfort. As we have seen with new stadiums around the world, it has the potential to transform the perception of a city.
Financially it will also boost the coffers of both the Brumbies and the Raiders through greater patronage. It could also help our next campaign for an A-League team.
In the case of the Brumbies, it needs to happen sooner rather later.
In the interim, one option for the Brumbies might be to move a couple of home games away from Canberra. This has been proposed in the past where the playing of a home game against the Waratahs would occur at the Olympic Stadium. The Brumbies would be paid a set amount for this move by the Olympic Stadium, a welcome boost to the Brumbies finances.
That horse appears to have bolted.
I believe the Brumbies should be looking farther afield. The team received ‘rock star’ support in Japan for the game against the Sunwolves. This could be the home-away game option for the Brumbies. Maybe low-audience drawing games against South African teams could be played in Tokyo.
With the Sunwolves exiting Super Rugby there will be a vacuum to meet the obvious demand. Some form of alliance with Japanese rugby is a possibility and moving some home games to Tokyo and Singapore could be of benefit financially to the Brumbies.
As previously indicated, the landscape continues to change on many fronts when it comes to Canberra sport.