NRL eyeing new stadium strategy

Suburban NRL grounds could be a thing of the past with the league intent on implementing a stadium strategy which will deliver average crowds of 20,000 by 2017.

In a development sure to divide fans of a host of Sydney clubs, the NRL will spend the next three months consulting clubs and their supporters in a bid to determine where games are played in the future.

It has been mooted the NRL could follow the lead of the AFL in Melbourne, which ditched suburban grounds in favour of having all teams play out of Etihad Stadium and the MCG.

A similar move in Sydney could see ANZ Stadium and Allianz Stadium become the home away from home for the nine NRL clubs based in and around Sydney.

More likely however - especially in the short term - would be the move of high-drawing marquee games to larger venues, with suburban grounds left to host matches against low-drawing opposition.

Such a move however could kill off suburban grounds, the upkeep of which may no longer be financially viable without a consistent flow of matches.

"We have committed to a strategic target of averaging 20,000 fans a game by 2017 and to do so we need to look at the capacity we have and the experience we are offering," NRL interim chief executive Shane Mattiske said in a statement released after Wednesday's meeting with club chief executives.

"We are going to have to look at every aspect of our match day and matching games to the appropriate stadiums is at the heart of that.

"This isn't about moving every match to a major venue but it is about ensuring we have the strategies in place to play matches in the most appropriate location for that match."

Included in the stadium strategy will be a long term view to the scheduling of matches in non-traditional and regional areas.

Games will be played in Perth, Darwin, Mackay and Coffs Harbour in 2012.




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