Council locks in 2020 Super Rugby clash at Marley Brown
IMPRESSED by the reception during the Queensland Country and Brisbane City match in September, Queensland Reds have chosen Gladstone for a pre-season Super Rugby clash.
Gladstone Regional Council today agreed to host the pre-season match between Queensland Reds and Melbourne Rebels on January 17 at Marley Brown Oval.
Profits from ticket sales will go towards the Gladstone Region Drought Appeal. But the decision was not made lightly, with the game coming at a cost to council of $80,000.
The matter was brought to councillors at today's general meeting as a last-minute urgent matter of business.
Deputy Mayor Chris Trevor raised concerns about the cost to council, the timing of the match in the wet season and school holidays and if it would be supported by the league-mad region.
"No disrespect to rugby union … I've been a union man for a lot of my life and league too," he said during the meeting.
"But union doesn't have the same following that league does in town and it never has."
Councillor Natalia Muszkat said January 17 was not the ideal time to host a big sporting event in Gladstone.
"Is this the best way to spend $80,000 right now?" she said.
Councillors including Kahn Goodluck and Glenn Churchill pointed out the positives.
"Our council has made a series of decisions over the past 18 months in regards to the Regional Events Strategy … this is a testament to the community … they've come to us first so our community can be part of this event," Cr Goodluck said.
Every councillor except Cr Muszkat voted in favour of hosting the event.
Speaking to The Observer after the meeting, Cr Trevor said the advantages outweighed the potential disadvantages. He said the decision was not easy in light of the region's sluggish economy.
"I think with the current economic downturn and the pain people are enduring some would say 'not another football match'," he said.
"But having said that, the purpose of putting these games on is to stimulate the local economy, to bring pride and to hopefully lead to bigger and better things."
The Reds and Rebels clash is one of two Queensland Reds pre-season games, with the full squad, including the "stars" expected to take the field.
Gladstone Region Mayor Matt Burnett did not attend the meeting due to an urgent family matter.
The National Rugby Championship match between Queensland Country and Brisbane hosted at Marley Brown Oval in September cost the council $20,000.
The match attracted 745 people. The council kept proceeds from ticket sales but did not break even. However early estimates suggested an economic benefit to the region in the range of $85,000-$90,000.