The Dolphins NRL bid has been declared “NRL-ready” by club chairman Bob Jones as the powerhouse organisation took the next step towards becoming the second elite Brisbane team.
The official opening on Tuesday of the northern grandstand of Dolphin Stadium on Redcliffe, which Jones called the “final piece of our infrastructure puzzle”, cost $6.5 million thanks to funding from the Federal Government and Moreton Bay Regional Council.
The Dolphins’ own assets are valued in excess of $100 million, including an 11-hectare site on which is located the completed home ground stadium which will seat 10,000 people. There is room for an extra 1500 standing-room patrons.
The Dolphins intend to play most of their games out of Suncorp Stadium with the new stadium to host a couple of games a year and to serve as the main training field for the NRL side.
ARLC chairman Peter V’landys is determined to install a second Brisbane team if the business case stacks up, and Jones said that in the Dolphins’ case it most certainly did.
“We are now NRL-ready, and when I say ready we are ready to go tomorrow if the NRL needs us,” Jones said.
“Peter V’landys is certainly aware the Dolphins are ready and we will be meeting in the next little while. [The NRL] are not fully aware of what we are capable of, but they will be soon.
“For ten years we have been building our infrastructure because our strategic plan has always been to play rugby league at the highest level.
“To do that we recognised some time ago that you need to have assets, and that is what we have done.”
Those assets are the jewel in the crown of the bid.
The Dolphins own the key elements to start an NRL franchise, including their own training base, gymnasium and pool facilities, rehabilitation facilities and meeting rooms and office space for administration.
The Dolphins have also engaged Terry Reader, the former chief commercial officer at the Broncos, to build strategy and a business plan for the bid.
“One of the most attractive things about the Dolphins being the next Brisbane-based NRL team is that they already have in place and own what most expansion teams go bankrupt trying to achieve. The infrastructure is already here,” Reader told NRL.com
“What they have is bigger than most NRL clubs, in a diversified business structure.”
That includes Dolphins Leagues Club with 40,000 members and a shopping centre that drives its own revenue and profit, with anchor tenant Coles.
“They also built a leisure centre seven years ago with a pool and gym with a level of office space above which is currently leased out to another tenant but which will be used for administration if they win the NRL bid, and of course the stadium,” Reader said.
The Redcliffe bid has the support of Wayne Bennett who is in the Dolphins’ sights as a possible inaugural coach once he has finished his commitments with South Sydney.
“Wayne obviously knows rugby league and has been a great coach for a long time so you’d be crazy not to talk to Wayne and consider him… if he is available,” Jones said.
Jones said Adam Mogg, the premiership-winning coach of the Redcliffe Dolphins’ Intrust Super Cup side, was also a contender.
“Adam is a fine coach and getting better and he will certainly come into calculations,” Jones said.
The Dolphins have a rich 73-year history and have produced a plethora of greats including Petero Civoniceva, Brent Tate and Peter Leis. They have won a record six Queensland Cup titles in the past 24 years.
The bid will also engage with fans about the name to precede ‘Dolphins’, although the bid team has determined that it won’t be Redcliffe in order to broaden its appeal in the south-east of Queensland.
“We won’t just have a feeder team or a relationship with the Redcliffe Dolphins, but we plan to have multiple teams feeding in,” Reader said.
“Another frequently-asked question is whether our colours will be the same as the Redcliffe Dolphins. Red and white is non-negotiable, that is the Dolphins’ colours, but when you think about getting the public involved we will ask them what other colour they would like to see added to that.”