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Volume 6 No. 235
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Five ANZ Stadium-Based NRL Clubs To Hold Meeting On Slashing Costs Of Attending Games

The five National Rugby League clubs based at ANZ Stadium will reportedly "hold a potentially historic meeting on Friday to discuss drastically slashing the costs of attending rugby league games," according to Dean Ritchie of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. Family tickets for A$49 ($39), reduced food and beverage prices and discounted parking at the Sydney Olympic Park venue will "appease supporters" who say that they cannot afford to attend matches due to financial constraints. The five ANZ Stadium tenants "united to lobby the NRL to fix scheduling and Sydney’s alarming drop in crowds." South Sydney, Wests Tigers, Canterbury, St. George Illawarra and Parramatta will meet with NRL officials and ANZ Stadium management again on Friday to "try and set a cheap, fixed entry price for all matches next season." Currently, a family pass for four people to attend games at ANZ Stadium "can cost between" A$70 ($55) and A$100 ($79). Some clubs charge A$40 ($32) to "sit on a hill at antiquated suburban grounds." Sydney is currently "experiencing its lowest regular-season crowds" since '02. A survey of 9,000 people revealed 22% of supporters will not attend matches "because of high ticket prices," and 14% said that the "high price of food and drinks kept them away." South Sydney CEO Blake Solly said, "We know there is an issue about making tickets more affordable. Different clubs will price different levels in different areas. We want to agree to a joint pricing offer but more importantly it can be consistent right through the season so people have an understanding of what they are getting" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 8/23).

DOUBLING UP?: In Sydney, Adrian Proszenko reported the NRL and its clubs are seeking to stage doubleheaders in Sydney from next season "as part of the solution to the game's crowds crisis." The average NRL crowd has fallen to 14,827 this season, the "first time the average figure has dropped below 15,000" since '04. The introduction of "family unfriendly fixtures," such as the Thursday night and 6pm Friday games, has had an effect, "although a range of other factors have also contributed." It is "hoped" an injection of at least A$1.6B ($1.3B) into stadium infrastructure will "help reverse the trend," although the NRL and clubs acknowledge they "need to be more proactive to lure television viewers through the turnstiles." One initiative being discussed is the staging of doubleheaders in Sydney. The concept has been "used sparingly" in the city. It has "proven a success when staged annually in Brisbane" when the Broncos are one of the sides participating in a doubleheader at Suncorp Stadium. The NRL "floated the idea" to Sydney club execs, who believe that it "warrants further investigation." An NRL spokesperson said, "We're in discussions with clubs around the prospect of a doubleheader in Sydney as part of the planning for the 2018 schedule." ANZ Stadium has been "mooted as the venue most likely to host" the doubleheaders. The Parramatta Eels, who call ANZ home while the new Western Sydney Stadium is being built, are "open to the concept." Parramatta CEO Bernie Gurr said, "On a selective basis, doubleheaders do have some merit" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 8/23).