A new partnership announced today (October 25) by council and the South Sydney Rabbitohs will see Sunshine Coast Stadium host NRL competition matches for the first time, starting from the 2019 season.
South Sydney will play one of its allocated “home” games on the Sunshine Coast in each of the 2019, 2020 and 2021 seasons, starting with a clash against the NZ Warriors in round five next season.
The Saturday, April 13 game (3pm kickoff) will be the first NRL fixture which offers premiership points to be played on the Sunshine Coast and comes after the region proved its credentials as a host for elite rugby league by staging a sequence of well-attended pre-season matches.
Mayor Mark Jamieson, who announced council’s new partnership with the Rabbitohs at Sunshine Coast Stadium today, said it represented a great outcome for the region.
“This is an announcement that I know many people have been wanting to hear for some time – NRL matches are coming to the Sunshine Coast,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“The Rabbitohs are one of the premier clubs in the NRL and we’re delighted that they will be setting up a home away from home in our region, and playing at our stadium, for the next three years.
“Council has worked hard for some time on increasing our presence in the NRL whether it be through hosting matches or being a venue for pre-season training.
“We’ve shown our outstanding credentials, including providing an NRL standard venue through our recent upgrades at the stadium, and these have been recognised by the Rabbitohs and the NRL.
“I must also acknowledge the assistance we have received from Tourism and Events Queensland.
“I’m sure all sports lovers in our region, especially rugby league fans, will be keen to see the Rabbitohs and Warriors – two teams who made the top eight in 2018 and boasting some of the biggest stars of the NRL - in action in their own backyard in April.”
South Sydney Rabbitohs CEO Blake Solly is looking forward to bringing the team to the Sunshine Coast.
“As a club, we have a very broad membership and supporter base so we’re very excited to be playing on the Sunshine Coast over the next three years,” Mr Solly said.
“By taking games to the Sunshine Coast, we have the chance to further grow our membership and supporter base, as well as promoting the NRL and showcasing the Sunshine Coast as a destination to our members and fans.”
Tourism, Sports and Events Portfolio Cr Jason O’Pray said the Rabbitohs’ matches would add to the Sunshine Coast’s reputation as a leading destination for elite sports teams and sporting events.
“The successful hosting and support of a wide range of sporting activity and events has built our reputation to the point where we are now getting more opportunities on the national and international stage,” Cr O’Pray said.
“We will be making each of these games an event to remember.
“We anticipate they will be a drawcard for supporters from around Queensland and interstate – and, with the Warriors involved next year, from across the Tasman - leading to a significant boost for the local economy and making a great promotional link with Auckland and our direct Air New Zealand flights to Sunshine Coast Airport which will start later in the season.
“There’s also a range of promotional opportunities available to us by having such a high-profile club as South Sydney connected to the Sunshine Coast for this three-year period.”
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg congratulated council and South Sydney on bringing NRL games to the Sunshine Coast.
“It will be one of the real highlights of our schedule to see a Premiership match played for the first time on the Sunshine Coast,” Mr Greenberg said.
“The area has an established and strong connection with rugby league and this also reflects our focus on taking games to regional locations.
“The clubs particularly are doing a great job connecting with local communities which will be highlighted by this game.”
Tickets for the April 13 match will go on sale in the new year. Make sure you follow the stadium and council’s Facebook pages for details.
Corporate and hospitality packages will be available. Registrations of interest can be made by contacting Sunshine Coast Stadium.