One week on from the announcement that Dubbo will host NRL games starting next year, and the excitement and enthusiasm haven't really died down.
When I started the process of council investigating the possibility of game in May, I was told two things. One was that it would be very difficult to attract a game for 2021 and that the top team we should target would be South Sydney.
The early information from staff was that very few clubs would be willing to sign an agreement with Dubbo for next year because they already had existing agreements with regional areas or weren't looking.
A game in 2022 might be more likely.
Despite that the staff went away and made a number of enquiries and began to report back that there were some options. Despite my lack of footballing knowledge, I had heard enough that South Sydney was my reference, because their support in our region was bigger than any other club.
As talks progressed it became increasingly obvious that Souths was a real possibility. The State Government also came on board, with the NRL Regional Taskforce headed by Local Member Dugald Saunders committing to subsidising the financial commitment of bring a game to Dubbo.
Everything aligned to lead to a deal being struck. And it is a two-year deal, with a game in 2021 and 2022.
Council's events team deserve plenty of praise for their work in making this deal a reality.
This is great news for a number of reasons. First and foremost, Dubbo needs every economic boost it can get to make it through the economic recovery from the global pandemic.
We are doing quite well so far but can't afford to be complacent. The more developments we can bring, the more tourism we can attract, helps to keep locals in employment and hopefully create more chances to get more back on their feet.
Additionally, it is nice to be able to bring a great event to Dubbo to give people something to look forward to. There is no doubt 2020 has been a tough year, and the social distancing and other changes to the way we live have taken a toll.
There are still a few questions to be answered and I know they are big questions. When will the game take place and who will be the other team. These will both be decided by the NRL when they compose their draw for the 2021 season. I would like it to be another NSW team to give more local supporters a chance to see their side play in their home region.
The NRL is expecting to release its draw in late November so we will have to wait until then but the hard work has been done. Now council's goal is to make this partnership with Souths a long-term one. From brief talks Souths CEO Blake Solly has indicated they would like to come back for a number of years and I think that is something residents would be happy with too.
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