The Dolphins are ready to move quickly if the NRL decides to make them the “second Brisbane team”, with the start of the 2022 season now tipped to be a goer for an expanded competition.
News of a fast-tracked timetable spread quickly on the weekend, as the first post-COVID-19 round of the 2020 competition was in full swing.
It’s a welcome development for Dolphins’ chairman Bob Jones who believes expansion, sooner rather than later, would be good for the game and Moreton Bay Region as both recover from the pandemic.
The club must first overcome rival bids from the Brisbane Bombers, Ipswich Jets and Easts Tigers.
“We believe we can move quickly. A couple of years ago, we were asked by the NRL if we’d be ready to go if one of the Sydney teams fell over. They wanted us to be ready in a week, but the team in question got themselves out of the jam they were in,” Bob recalls.
“We’re in better shape than we were then, in terms of infrastructure. There’s obviously a lot of work to do with the roster and getting players, forming marketing departments, stadium management and all the other stuff in terms of the grounds.”
Bob says the club’s facilities put it in a great position and, if successful, they’d probably play more games at Dolphin Stadium than they first thought.
“The break-even number for Suncorp Stadium is 20,000 people. If you get 10,000 at Redcliffe, you’re 10,000 in front,” he says.
Everything players and playing staff need is ready to go and the side would be based and train at Dolphin Stadium.
“We have all the facilities we need. A lot of these facilities are better than those some of the Sydney teams have,” Bob says.
A start-up figure of $10 million has been thrown about in recent days, but the club has not been told exactly what will be required.
“If you want to do really well in the competition, you’re probably going to need to find that sort of money,” he says.
But the Dolphins also have their own stadium, office space, training facilities and income stream – something their rivals don’t. That’s one of the factors that gives them the edge.
“We’ve done all the work with a view to having the best facilities we can have and at some stage going to the NRL. Whatever the number is, it would cost us less than it would our rivals because we already own the infrastructure,” Bob says.
Game takings, merchandise and marketing would also raise money for the side.
“It doesn’t happen overnight. We think we could handle whatever the number is.”
“Not yet. What we heard some months ago was that they’re still finalising their research … what it should look like,” Bob says.
He was expecting to hear more in the second half of the year, when they were due to consider the bids. The club hasn’t heard anything official from the commission about a possible earlier start date or the process from here. Bob says he’d welcome a chat and concrete details on dates and the process.
“I think it would be fantastic for the region’s economy. We’ve seen examples of it: what the Broncos have done for Brisbane and the Cowboys for Townsville. They’ve put Townsville on the map,” Bob says.
“Because the Cowboys have really given Townsville a boost, I’m sure it would be the same for our region and the Sunshine Coast and the whole of Brisbane.
“I think the opportunities for everyone – players, coaches, fans, sponsors - will be fantastic. That’s the reality of it.”
He’s been speaking to the Broncos and they’re very positive about it and he reckons they’ll lift to take on the competition when they come. This will also force the new team to be the best they can be.
“It will create jobs and be good for the economy. People will be surprised what it will really do for our region,” Bob says.
“I think so. It would be a really positive outcome and I think the weekend’s round of matches showed how much influence and positivity it can have on a whole community, even non-rugby league people were talking about it,” he explains.
“Something like that for our region would be fantastic in terms of driving everything along. I applaud Peter V’Landys for getting the game back by May 28 and what it’s done for lots of people – creating jobs and keeping people in work.”
He says it sets an example to other sports trying to do the same.
“I don’t know much about the other bids, so I can’t comment on those. But we’re a rugby league club, rugby league is what we do. We make footballers, we make coaches, we make sponsors. We don’t do anything else. Everything revolves around football,” Bob says.
“I think it (the game) is crying out for this. We’ve been building that infrastructure for the best part of 10 years and we’re in the third biggest council area in Australia. I’m not sure about the other bids, I can’t make comparisons and I won’t. (But) I’m sure they’d like to be in the position we’re in.”
“I haven’t spoken to him personally. I think if someone of his calibre is available, you’d be crazy not to consider them. What his appetite for coaching at that time would be, who knows?
“I’m sure he would be someone I’d like to sit down and have a talk to even if it didn’t come out that he was going to be a coach. He’d have some sage words we could benefit from.”
Other big coaching names have also been bandied about but Bob says those speculating shouldn’t overlook the club’s current Intrust Super Cup coach.
“I think Adam Mogg is an up and coming coach that’s going places. He’d come into contention too,” he says.