THE VB South Coast Group 7 Rugby League senior board of management have made a decision, on a one-year trial basis, to play the 2014 senior league grand final at Collegians Sports Complex at Figtree.
League general manager Jim McAuliffe said the move would be a great promotion for the game and that the board considered many factors in its decision.
The venue has capacity to cater for 6000 people.
“We believe it will be a win-win situation, with less work for all the volunteer workers as well as minimising the costs, which, in the long-term has benefits for the clubs,” Mr McAuliffe said.
“There will be undercover grandstand seating for 1200 spectators with off-street parking within the Collegians Sports Complex as well as Syd Parrish Park and the facility is very accessible via the F6 freeway, while clubs will be able to enjoy state-of-the-art dual changeroom and facilities.
“This was a commercial decision and one that was not made lightly, but the soaring costs of our current grand final model made continuing with it financially prohibitive.
This was a commercial decision and one that was not made lightly, but the soaring costs of our current grand final model made continuing with it financially prohibitive.
“A very important part of the charter of the league is to minimise, and where possible, avoid, cost increases to our clubs. With this in mind we believe we will be able to significantly increase the financial return compared to grand finals of recent years whilst playing at a first class venue.
“There is no National Rugby League that weekend as the semi-finals are played on Friday and Saturday night and many people will probably take advantage to see some quality rugby league.”
To date, there have been mixed results from clubs who have spoken to the Kiama Independent and Lake Times.
Warilla-Lake South Gorillas president Don Kane was in favour.
“The facilities there at Collies are state of the art, personally I wouldn’t have a problem with it,” Mr Kane said.
“The grand final was at Albion Park for a number of years, Albion Park to Figtree isn’t a huge difference and if people want to go to the game then they’ll go.”
“Last year the grand final was in Nowra, that was a 40 minute or more drive for us and we certainly didn’t lack supporters.”
Albion Park-Oak Flats Eagles president Ralph Clark had a different opinion.
“I’m not speaking on behalf of the club, though I think they would agree with me, but I don’t agree with it.”
“We’ve got grounds in Group 7 that can hold a grand final and it’s the Group 7 grand final so it should be in Group 7.”
“If you want to go down the track of it being a neutral ground then well we could get to the finals and look at the sides that don’t make the five and let one of them host it.”
“Apparently they think it’s going to be better money wise, but I think the crowds will be down. Neutral supporters aren’t going to go that extra distance”
“My understanding is that they think it’s going to be cheaper, well I think the Group should’ve sat down with the clubs and discussed how we could have bought down the costs and kept it in the group.”
Shellharbour City Sharks Allan Cody agreed with Clarke.
“It’s not going to do Group 7 any favours, it should be held in Group 7.”
“Where are we going to take it next year, Wagga? It should be held in Group 7, how many other groups would play their grand final at a ground from a different competition.”
“We’ve just come back from the Coal League and here in Group 7 the crowds are better, the supporters here are wonderful and very partisan and we should reward them for that by having the grand final in the group.”
Kiama Knights president Paul Atkins said it was a bit hard to comment at the moment, but I would be very interested in see the proposal and what it involved.
Dan Smith from the Nowra-Bomaderry Jets hadn't actually heard about the move so he couldn't comment on behalf of the club until he speaks to the rest of the committee.
"There's no doubt they have top notch facilities there but I'm disappointed to see it go outside the Group 7 catchment.
“It would've been nice if it was put to a vote between all the clubs. I'm sure we've got suitable facilities at any of the Group 7 grounds.
“We had it at Nowra Showground last year and people are still raving about it. If the Jets were to make the grand final, we could lose a number of fans because of the distance of travel.”