Redcliffe CEO Tony Murphy at Dolphin Stadium which has recently been completed. He says the club is ready to go in the NRL. Picture: Renae Droop
Redcliffe CEO Tony Murphy at Dolphin Stadium which has recently been completed. He says the club is ready to go in the NRL. Picture: Renae Droop

Coast to play key role in NRL expansion bid

Cash-rich Redcliffe Dolphins are finalising an NRL expansion bid worth more than $100 million, with the Sunshine Coast to play an "important" role in its plans.

Powerbrokers of the club have tabled a formidable bid to be the game's 17th team and the second in Brisbane, using the vast region and would-be supporter base at its disposal.

Armed with a diversified business model that turns over an annual revenue of $30 million, a sum that exceeds most existing clubs in the NRL, and 73 years of history, the club means business.

The man who will execute the bid's strategic and business plan, Terry Reader, said the plan was to use the north Brisbane, Moreton Bay and Sunshine Coast corridor as one.

Mr Reader, the former chief commercial officer of the Brisbane Broncos, said if successful the majority of games would be hosted by Suncorp Stadium but matches to be played at Dolphin and Sunshine Coast stadiums.

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More than 4000 footy fans watch on as the Melbourne Storm defeated North Queensland Cowboys 36 – 20 at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
More than 4000 footy fans watch on as the Melbourne Storm defeated North Queensland Cowboys 36 – 20 at Sunshine Coast Stadium.

"Suncorp will be the main home venue but we are investigating getting games at Dolphin Stadium and bringing the Sunshine Coast region in as well," Mr Reader said.

Mr Reader said Sunshine Coast Stadium had proved itself as a top-class venue in hosting the Melbourne Storm for six games during the coronavirus-riddled year.

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"It's wonderful the way the Sunshine Coast has taken to having regular games this year and they've all been well attended throughout the season," he said.

"As we get formal bid documents, we are working on the commercial and business plan, that includes speaking to Sunshine Coast Council and the stadium on what things might look like."

Dolphin Stadium hosts more than 10,000 seats and major expansion plans are in place for Sunshine Coast Stadium to take its capacity to more than 16,000.

"I know from being involved with Queensland Cup teams how much players look forward to playing on the Coast, and at Dolphin Stadium, they're both venues people like going to."

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Storm’s Jahrome Hughes makes a break and scores a try against the Wests Tigers at Sunshine Coast Stadium. Photo: Matt Roberts/Getty Images
Storm’s Jahrome Hughes makes a break and scores a try against the Wests Tigers at Sunshine Coast Stadium. Photo: Matt Roberts/Getty Images

Mr Reader said the north Brisbane and beyond corridor, which boasts current NRL talents like Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, Corey Horsburgh, Jake Friend and Reed Mahoney, was a true rugby league heartland.

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"It's a massive heartland," he said.

"There will be three million people in Brisbane by 2027, then half a million in Moreton Bay and close to that in the Sunshine Coast.

"When you think about it, there's only one team in Brisbane, Sydney have nine, but this team won't be Redcliffe, it will be southeast Queensland."

Discussions around the name will be put to the community in due course, but some suggestions have already been made.

Wests Tigers legend Benji Marshall fires off a cut out pass while playing against the Melbourne Storm at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
Wests Tigers legend Benji Marshall fires off a cut out pass while playing against the Melbourne Storm at Sunshine Coast Stadium.

It's understood the Dolphin component will remain.

"Moreton Bay Dolphins, River City Dolphins, Sunshine State Dolphins," Mr Reader listed as some of the suggestions.

The Dolphins own revenue-generating assets which include a leagues club with more than 40,000 members, the Dolphins Central Shopping Centre anchored by a Coles supermarket, the Dophins Leisure Centre and the newly completed stadium.

Mr Reader said the sheer financial weight of the club would eliminate the start-up costs involved with forming an NRL team.

"This is work over many, many years, more than a decade," he said.

"The shopping centre, pool, leagues club, all managed over 10-15 years, it's not overnight.

"All this has been built on each year with all the necessary components to be a success.

"When the time comes we will make a compelling case and the Sunshine Coast will be an important part."

 


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