As the ARL prepares to finalise its plans for the bidding process for a second Brisbane NRL licence and competition heats up, the Dolphins say they are ready to hit the ground running tomorrow.
Moreton Daily spoke with the man driving the Dolphins’ bid for the 17th NRL licence this morning in light of the announcement yesterday that the Ipswich Jets and Brisbane Bombers bids had merged, and news earlier this week that the ARL might make a decision by June.
Terry Reader says, while things are changing every day, nothing has changed from the club’s point of view.
He says Ipswich already had a bid in motion, and planned to play at Suncorp Stadium, so the merger bid will not be significantly different to what is already on the table.
It does, however, mean the race is now down to three – Dolphins, Firehawks and Brisbane Jets.
On Monday, Australian Rugby League Commission Chairman Peter V’landys said there could be a second Brisbane team in the NRL by 2023 and a decision could be made by June.
“There has never been a more direct announcement from the NRL than this week. I think that’s great, everyone’s excited,” Terry says.
He says we are hearing the commission is meeting tonight and he hopes there will be clarity on the bid process and timeline.
“We’ve been building in the background and doing what we can to be in the best position to put forward our bid,” he says.
He says the club is in a position to hit the ground running the moment they are given the green light, with all the necessary infrastructure in place, and a from a solid financial position to ensure it will be a stable and viable NRL club.
“The club is very well set up and has all of the infrastructure to go tomorrow,” he says.
He says the Dolphins would not be faced with high start-up costs that could face other clubs without the necessary infrastructure. It’s already there.
If Dolphins get the green light, the focus would immediately be on recruiting staff and building a competitive roster of players.
Terry points out the run-up time to a 2023 season start would be just 14-15 months, with preseason starting in November 2022.
“Dolphins are in a very good position because of the infrastructure and set-up and the businesses they have behind them,” he says.
“Sustainability and viability is very important. This set-up puts us in very good stead.
“Our catchment area is the fastest growing area in Queensland, if not Australia. We will appeal to Brisbane, Moreton Bay Regin and the Sunshine Coast areas – and beyond.
“The commission is very big on participation and growing the game. The Dolphins have a 70-year history of growing the game.”
Trial games a boost
When asked if hosting NRL trial games on February 20 and 27 would help the club’s chances, Terry answers quickly.
“No doubt that’s a massive benefit to showcase what the Dolphins are already doing, not just talking about,” he says.
“Let’s sell out the two trial games and show everyone how much rugby league means to the area.”
Terry also points to the Brisbane Roar playing all of its A-League and W-League games at the club’s home, Moreton Daily Stadium, this season.
He says securing a naming rights sponsor for the stadium is also evidence the club is financially viable and stable – two essential elements for any NRL club.
“Having a naming rights partner is an example of the pieces coming together for the Dolphins,” he says.
Dolphins CEO Tony Murphy says: “Whatever bid wins the right to join the NRL will be a very good bid and we’re confident it will be us. If anyone beats us, it will be an exceptional bid”.
He says the club is NRL-ready – infrastructure and commercial viability are key as is the population growth in our own backyard.
“We know how to run a football club,” he says.
The bid to beat
Moreton Bay Region Industry and Tourism CEO Shane Newcombe says the club and the region are in the box seat.
“The club has long been the breeding ground for some of the game’s brightest stars and it has the backing of the community to take this logical next step,” he says.
“We’re proud supporters of the club. This week’s announcement of our Moreton Daily Stadium naming rights partnership is proof of that.
“The deal will underpin the club’s financial position for at least the next three years, giving the NRL confidence Dolphins are commercially-viable and already taking the steps necessary to progress to the NRL.”
Our time has come
Mayor Peter Flannery says the Moreton Bay Region is ready to enter the big league.
“The smart money is backing Moreton Bay Region for the next NRL licence because we’ll have a supporter base from Bowen Hills to Bundaberg,” he says.
“There’s already 40,000 Dolphins members, more than 5,500 registered local players, and 17 junior clubs here – we are truly rugby league heartland, just ask Petero Civoniceva.
“Our entire region is united behind this bid with footy fans, grassroots clubs, big business, government and politicians of all colours working together to ensure it succeeds.
“We’re so serious about this that Council has been the single biggest investor into Dolphins’ stadium upgrades, contributing a total of $8.4 million to the $24 million.
“Because we know the value of major sporting events and competitions to our economy and this investment will come back in dividends for the entire region.
“I believe Moreton Bay can become Queensland’s leading sports destination – today is another step in that direction.”