FIRE DOUSED | After returning to finals action in 2015, the St George-Illawarra Dragons struggled un...
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The Dragons' new-look Sydney home ground, Kogarah's Jubilee Oval, has been re-named today as St George Illawarra prepare for their first NRL game there in four years against Cronulla this Sunday.
The ground, which is to be used as a community facility for various sporting and public events, will now be known as Oki Jubilee Stadium.
Kogarah Council Mayor Jim Taylor said the Council had agreed to a five-year sponsorship deal with printer and data communications specialist, Oki, entitling them to naming rights to the venue.
Taylor said a portion of Oki's sponsorship had been paid upfront to assist with the initial $1.85 million overhaul of the field and facilities. Jubilee Oval was acquired by the Kogarah Council in 1906 and first occupied by the St George Dragons in 1950.
"It is very important that a ground which has such history and tradition in the St George area can continue to play a part in the lives of everyone in the community," Taylor said.
"The sponsorship support from Oki over the next five years will help with the ongoing work that needs to be done progressively to take Oki Jubilee Stadium to the next level."
Oki Chairman Stead Denton was born and bred in Kogarah and is delighted to be part of the rejuvenation of Jubilee Oval and the return of the Dragons to play there for the first time since July 11, 1999.
"The Dragons have been part of my life for as long as I can remember," Denton said. "From a personal and professional point of view, we at Oki wanted to be part of something spirited that touches the local community at a real and beneficial level."
Dragons chairman Warren Lockwood thanked everyone who had made it possible for the Dragons to return to play in the local area.
"The funding support we have received from the State Government, Kogarah Council and St George Leagues Club, as well as the community appeal (JOCA); the acquisition of naming rights sponsor Oki; and the increased demand for tickets to all of our games speaks volumes about why the Dragons decided to return to Jubilee Oval," Lockwood said.
"A lot of hard work has been done over the past six months to ensure we kick-off on Sunday, May 4, against Cronulla and I sincerely thank every one who has made it possible. The weather in recent weeks has not helped but all the new facilities will be in place for this weekend, with some of the beautification work still to be completed."
Dragons coach Nathan Brown and senior players Lance Thompson and Mark Gasnier, both local juniors, agree that Oki Jubilee stadium - and the capacity crowd of 17,000 expected at all five home games - is certain to give them a distinct home advantage, like they enjoy at WIN Stadium, Wollongong. They encouraged Dragons supporters to get behind them and Oki.
"This ground had special meaning for many people including myself, but in particular to two of our current players, Lance Thompson and Mark Gasnier, who grew up in the area and played junior football here, as well as Lance making his first grade debut at Jubilee Oval in 1995," Brown said.
"They are very passionate about playing at Jubilee and that emotion will not be lost on the rest of the team I can assure you. "We are all very excited about playing at the new Oki Jubilee Stadium on Sunday hopefully in front of a capacity crowd with what should be a full-strength line-up for the first time this season."
Brown said internationals Gasnier (calf), Shaun Timmins (hamstring) and Jason Ryles (hamstring) - who were missing for the Dragons gutsy 24-20 win over the Roosters on Anzac Day - would all be fit for the local derby.
"It's a great boost for the team and everyone who has supported us through our tough start to the season to have all of our players back on deck," Brown said.
"But we certainly won't be taking anything for granted against the Sharks, who are yet to win a game this season. They are a danger team for us, beating us three times last year, including the semi-finals and they will be playing with a lot of determination, just as we did after our embarrassing loss to Manly.
"It will be a game to remember - and we look forward to walking away with the two competition points."
LIMITED GENERAL ADMISSION TICKETS LEFT FOR SHARKS CLASH About 7000 General Admission tickets are still available for the Dragons local derby with the Sharks.
Tickets can be purchased at the receptions of the St George Leagues Club (124 Princes Highway, Kogarah) and the Steelers Club (1 Burelli St, Wollongong) or by phoning 02 4224 8744.
If the match is sold-out there will be no "free list" or walk-up on the day.
MATCH DAY ADMISSION PRICES - OKI JUBILEE STADIUM, KOGARAH General Admission -Unreserved Seating ADULT: $18.00; CONCESSION: $10.00; FAMILY*: $40.00 Special - Away team season ticket holder ADULT: $8.00; CONCESSION: N/A; FAMILY*: N/A Special - Family General Admission Pass ADULT: $35.00; CONCESSION: N/A; FAMILY*: N/A
* Children 12 years and under admitted free on hill areas at Jubilee Oval subject to venue capacity. * Family packages consist of 2 adults and 2 children 12 years and under. * These prices applicable to walk up sales on the day only, subject to venue capacity