Dragons extend hiring agreement
with WIN Stadium for 2006

The St George Illawarra Dragons have today outlined details of their arrangements with the Wollongong Sportsground Trust for 2006 and expressed their desire for a continued long-term presence in the region.

The Dragons will play a major trial match against the Roosters in February at WIN Stadium plus half of their regular season games (six).

Dragons Chairman Warren Lockwood said while the commercial arrangements of the agreement were for next year only, the Club?s long-term business strategy revolved around supporting elite rugby league in Wollongong and the Illawarra region well into the future.

?We have entered into a commercial arrangement with the Trust which suits both parties for 2006,? said Lockwood. ?We have increased our financial commitment to assist with the Trust?s short-term business imperatives; however, we couldn?t go any further than 2006 because there are a number of very critical issues that could affect the Dragons in the future?.

Chief Executive Officer of the Dragons Peter Doust echoed the comments of his Chairman and expanded upon the key issues impacting upon the Dragons and their business strategy moving forward.

?The Dragons want to continue playing elite rugby league in Wollongong, just look at how everybody benefited from the team being in town in Wollongong,? said Doust. ?Our key communities have demonstrated their desire to support the Dragons, however, the Dragons must have some assurances in regard to matters that can considerably affect our business into the future.

?A five-year license agreement, as in the past, is not something we are in a position to be able to do, it has just too much risk involved at this stage,? added Doust.

Key issues impacting upon the Dragons and their business strategy for the future include:

? The NSW Labour Government?s policy which continues to increase poker machine tax, threatening the viability of licensed clubs

? The Illawarra Steelers Club has serious financial issues, and needs the next 12 months to clarify its long-term ability to contribute to the Dragons

? The extent to which there are any substantial increases, beyond 2006, in respect to playing at our venues.

? The need for general improvement of facilities at the venues and, in particular, the much needed development of the WIN Stadium Western Grandstand.

?The Dragons need its communities to support Clubs NSW, on behalf of licensed Clubs, to lobby the NSW Labour Government to stop the Poker Machine tax, which is progressing, as we speak,? said Doust. ?The Trust and Dragons also need everyone?s support to achieve positive outcomes in relation to the improvement of WIN Stadium facilities. Then the Dragons can make longer term commitments.

?We want to make a long-term commitment, but at the moment the risks are too great, because the outcomes are uncertain,? added Doust.

?I don?t think anybody questions anymore, how important the Dragons are in the ?sporting scheme of things? in the Illawarra. I don?t think anybody questions, anymore, the Dragons commitment to the Illawarra, said Doust. ?We just need to be more sure how some of these uncertainties will affect us going forward. The next twelve months will be important for the Dragons and WIN Stadium?.