Huge development in bid to steal grand final
The Queensland Government and Suncorp Stadium will launch a fresh bid to steal Sydney's NRL grand final following the axing of this weekend's Magic Round in Brisbane.
The Courier-Mail can reveal government officials are ready to lobby the NRL for the game's showpiece event after it was moved to October 25.
The shifting of the grand final from October 4 has thrust a shadow over the NRL's ability to host the game in Sydney as it is contractually obliged to do as part of a 25-year agreement with the NSW government.
With Allianz Stadium demolished and ANZ Stadium, the usual grand final venue, set to follow suit from July, the 2020 premiership decider was scheduled to be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
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But the SCG is slated to host matches for cricket's T20 World Cup from October 24, ruling it out of contention if the tournament avoids being postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The World Cup is in danger of being axed after Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared international travel and mass gatherings would be some of the last restrictions to be lifted, but a decision on the tournament is unlikely to be made for months.
If the World Cup goes ahead that leaves the NRL with only one suitable Sydney venue - the 30,000-seat Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta.
While Bankwest is Australia's newest stadium, its capacity is nearly half of the 52,000-seat Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane and is dwarfed by Suncorp's ability to accommodate cashed-up corporates.
If crowds are allowed to attend games by late October the NRL would be robbing more than 20,000 fans the opportunity to attend its 2020 decider and cost itself millions in lost revenue.
Suncorp Stadium manager Alan Graham confirmed Queensland was launching a new bid for the grand final.
"Suncorp Stadium is available on the 25th of October and we know pretty much all of the suitable Sydney venues won't be available," he said.
"We'd be happy to have some discussions with the NRL about the possibility of having that event here if everything starts to come back to some sort of normality.
"There is some unused funding from the Magic Round that could be used to secure a grand final in its place.
"What better way to show everything is starting to get back on track than by having a very passionate Queensland crowd cheering on.
"If you look at any of the big events the NRL have run here like Magic Round, double headers, Test matches, State of Origin - they're always in enormous demand.
"You've only got to look at the Broncos and what they keep producing every week and demolishing the crowds other teams are getting.
"The proof is in the pudding."
Suncorp was to host the second year of the popular Magic Round concept from Friday, where all eight matches of a round are played at the one venue.
The shutdown of the NRL season due to coronavirus restrictions has killed Magic Round for 2020 and it will not be part of the new-look 20-round season draw released in the coming weeks.
But that doesn't mean Queensland will settle for a season without any drawcard events.
A government source told The Courier-Mail they "expect" the NRL to deliver the Sunshine State a major event and will be lobbying the code hard to bring the grand final to Brisbane.
The Magic Round concept was a deal struck with the NRL by government agency Tourism and Events Queensland in conjunction with Suncorp Stadium.
The government provided a six-figure sum to secure Magic Round and that money could now be used to lure the grand final from Sydney.
"I've always said that if an NRL Grand Final is up for grabs, we'd put our hat in the ring," said tourism minister Kate Jones.
With Sydney's three biggest venues potentially out of action, the NRL may never get a better opportunity to play a grand final in rugby league mad Queensland.
Originally published as Huge development in QLD's bid to steal Sydney GF