I’m all for rugby league being played anywhere and everywhere, but I feel the NRL has missed a golden opportunity to test possible expansion markets in Australia and New Zealand by holding the inaugural Magic Round in Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium.
We see more prime time games on TV being played at Suncorp than any other ground in the NRL, with the Broncos featuring in the majority of premium telecasts throughout the season, both home and away. Sure, this helps with Brisbane gaining more exposure to a greater potential NRL supporter base as they are a familiar face on television. Why is this so when teams like the Raiders may get to showcase their brand in a free to air time slot once or twice a year? Suncorp Stadium gets plenty of exposure, along with the Broncos, and we can already guarantee passionate supporters in this catchment.
Suncorp is a great stadium which has proved itself on the big stage and the crowd support for the NRL is almost guaranteed in Brisbane, so is it purely money driving the need to play Magic Round in Brisbane?
With the NRL highlighting possible expansion in the near future, I think Magic Round could be an opportunity to put the entire NRL on show in a community earmarked for expansion, giving the new market a chance of appreciating the NRL in its entirety.
In an interview regarding expansion with Phil Gould on Channel 9’s 100% Footy, NRL Chief Executive Todd Greenberg commented:
‘‘The more areas you play in, the more time you have to expose new people to the game, the more the game is going to grow,’’ he said. ‘‘We are taking Origin to Perth this year…”.
Could it be feasible to take Magic Round to the newest target area for expansion? Opportunity exists to get a real gauge of the supporter base, test the facilities with back to back games and showcase the NRL with all teams united in support of the idea.
If views for expansion are in NZ, Perth, Central Coast or even another Brisbane side targeted for addition to the NRL, it would be beneficial for all clubs to go to the locale and help gauge the interest. I think Magic Round could be an opportunity for the NRL to take its entire brand to the people.
If expansion is really on the cards then give the new community a serious test – Magic Round could be it!