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The St George Illawarra Dragons and Wests Tigers have announced where they'll play the bulk of their home games ahead of the 2018 NRL season.
The Dragons have opted to play more games at their traditional bases, with Wollongong and Kogarah hosting five matches each in 2018:
The St George Illawarra Dragons have today announced their 'Home Game Venue' structure for the 2018 NRL Telstra Premiership season.
For the 2018 season the Dragons will play five home games at UOW Jubilee Oval, Kogarah, five home games at WIN Stadium, Wollongong in addition to the traditional ANZAC Day match against the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium, Sydney.
The Dragons are reviewing a number of market opportunities for their 12th home game, and expect to confirm the location for this over the coming weeks ahead of the NRL draw being released.
Other than the Roosters match on ANZAC Day as is the tradition, the determination of opponents and games to be played at each venue will be made once the NRL draw is released in October, and subsequent venue availability is confirmed.
In determining the home game venue structure for season 2018 the Dragons Board of Directors considered a number of factors, namely:
- Expiration of current venue hire agreements and new agreements moving forward
- Proposed investment by the NSW State Government into major Sydney stadia, and associated construction timelines
- Review of the 'Right Game Right Venue' strategy for the period 2014 to 2017
- Club Venue Strategy
"The 2018 schedule will see the Dragons play 10 of our 12 home games at our traditional venues at UOW Jubilee Oval, Kogarah and WIN Stadium, Wollongong, as well as hosting the annual ANZAC Day game at Allianz Stadium - one of the biggest events on the NRL calendar," Dragons CEO Peter Doust said.
"The Dragons support the proposed investment by the NSW State Government into Sydney's major venues to create a world class stadia network.
"However with continued uncertainty around construction priorities and timelines, we wanted to ensure that our Members, Partners and fans have certainty over our home venue structure for the 2018 season.
"To balance the cost base of playing additional games at traditional venues, the Dragons will be looking to take one home game to another market in 2018 and we have been exploring opportunities across Australia and internationally, that support our brand and business development objectives," added Doust.
"We are close to finalising an arrangement and will announce as soon as possible."
At the completion of the 2017 season, and in consideration of the home venue strategy for 2018, the Board and Management undertook a comprehensive review of the four-year (2014-2017) ‘Right Game Right Venue' strategy.
Meanwhile, the Wests Tigers have gone the opposite way, taking a game each away from Leichhardt and Campbelltown. ANZ Stadium keeps four games with the two relocated matches at venues outside Sydney still to be confirmed.
Wests Tigers have today confirmed the club's home game allocation for the 2018 season.
In 2018 the club will play four games at ANZ Stadium as per a long term contract that has been in place for the past four years, three at both Campbelltown Sports Stadium and Leichhardt Oval, and a further two to be taken to alternate locations outside of Sydney as part of exciting new initiatives developed in conjunction with the NRL.
Wests Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe said that the club was pleased to have been able to work with the NRL in such a collaborative way on these initiatives that allows the club to play in front of its traditional base of supporters and to identify new supporters.
"We're really pleased to be working with the NRL to develop the game of Rugby League across multiple locations," he said. "Given the NRL now has more control of scheduling, it has been able to work more closely with clubs in developing these great whole of game initiatives - it is a compliment to our club that they chose to work with us."
Wests Tigers remain committed to its suburban grounds and are working with both Campbelltown City Council and Inner West Council to put in place multi-year agreements to play games at the venues. The agreements would be the first time in the joint venture's history that Wests Tigers and the local councils have signed a multi year commitment.
The agreements would see Wests Tigers play a minimum of three games a year at each venue with Campbelltown Sports Stadium and Leichhardt Oval both having an important place in the past, and future, of the club.
Justin Pascoe said that the club was committed to its traditional base and the push for a multi year term supports that commitment.
"Our suburban grounds are incredibly important to the history of this club and we look forward to playing a minimum of six games across Campbelltown Sports Stadium and Leichhardt Oval in 2018," he said. "We're also working hard behind the scenes to put in place long term agreements to play games at both venues.
"The decision to take two games to new locations was made after much deliberation. These decisions are never made lightly, however we believe it's the right decision for the game, our Members and fans and our football department, and provides absolute balance, inclusive of our existing contractual commitments," said Pascoe.
The two home games that will be played outside of Sydney are aimed at growing both the club's and game's supporter base through some initiatives. Details of where these home games will be played will be released in the coming weeks.
Stay tuned for more news on the NRL 2018 fixtures as it comes to hand.