Heavy-hitters turn up heat on NRL for grand final series
The Queensland government has backed plans for a best-of-three grand-final series and turned up the heat on the NRL's innovation committee to deliver a historic decider to Suncorp Stadium this year.
The newly-formed innovation committee will meet this Thursday to sift through a number of proposals to help the NRL season recover in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, including an ambitious idea for an Origin-style grand-final series.
NRL innovation committee chairman Wayne Pearce said the concept had merit with a three-game series having the potential to generate a $40-50 million profit for the cash-strapped code.
Now the proposal has the support of political heavy-hitters, with the Queensland government ready to up the ante to make grand-final history, bring a decider to Suncorp Stadium and help the NRL's bottom line.
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Queensland tourism minister Kate Jones urged ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys to rubberstamp the best-of-three grand-final series, saying Sunshine State league fans have been short-changed for too long.
"A grand final in Queensland would be a ray of sunshine," Jones said.
"Of course we're interested … but based on the NRL's previous form, I wouldn't be surprised if all three (grand finals) went to Sydney.
"Sydney have hosted every NRL grand final since the beginning of time.
"Queensland deserves these matches.
"Anything short of two grand finals at Suncorp and in Townsville (at the new $293 million North Queensland Stadium) will be a slap in the face to Queensland footy fans.
"We've been strung along too long."
The grand-final proposal and its financial modelling has been sent to NRL CEO Todd Greenberg by concept creators, former New Zealand Test forward Dean Lonergan and Brisbane Bombers director Nick Livermore.
The treble of grand finals can be spaced out over 10 to 14 days depending on the length of a revived NRL season.
Under the plan, if a team wins the first two grand finals at the SCG and Suncorp for a 2-0 lead, Game Three in Townsville will not be played.
Queensland Rugby League chairman Bruce Hatcher said the NRL's innovation committee could not ignore the benefits of a Game Two grand-final at Suncorp.
"I don't know why it wasn't considered before this, it would be fantastic," he said.
"When we get those really big events you create a wonderful environment for the city and southeast Queensland and the whole state shares in it.
"I am quite sympathetic to the fact that you've got to look beyond the short-term in administration. Clearly getting better stadiums in Sydney was a great achievement.
"If I was a NSW government outlaying funds for the future of the game and building modern facilities I'd be wanting guarantees (around securing grand-final content).
"But Suncorp is a facility that's well built and designed to cater for demand of big events.
"A fully-packed Suncorp Stadium is far better than a fully-packed ANZ Stadium.
"It is 'The Cauldron'. It is pretty special."
Originally published as Heavy-hitters turn up heat on NRL for grand final series