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Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Page: 4361


Mr HAYES (4:15 PM) —Last week I, along with the Mayor of Campbelltown, Russell Matheson, threw down a challenge to Wests Tigers rugby league club to show locals the same loyalty that has clearly been shown to them by their faithful fans. On the eve of work starting on the $8 million upgrade of Campbelltown Stadium, it is not good enough for this rugby league club not to commit to more games in the region. This redevelopment work, due to commence in the coming weeks, is an important step in meeting a key election commitment made to local residents in the south-west of Sydney by the Rudd government.

I worked very closely with the local community and the Campbelltown City Council to secure this commitment. This is an important investment in the future of the region and, more importantly during these challenging times, this project is expected to support 200 full-time and part-time positions. The Campbelltown Stadium is an iconic venue in the community and our commitment goes a long way to helping transform this stadium and its adjoining facilities into one of the premier sporting precincts in Western Sydney.

This investment in Campbelltown Stadium warrants Wests Tigers committing to play a minimum of six home games in Campbelltown. Once the redevelopment of the stadium—which includes adding another 5,000 seats and upgrading player and media facilities—is complete, the ground capacity will increase to 20,000 people. Campbelltown should be given back the three home games that, in a commercial decision, were reallocated to the Sydney Football Stadium, some 60 kilometres away. Quite frankly, we are now redeveloping Campbelltown City’s sports stadium to satisfy the requirements of the NRL, not only now but also into the future. The chairman of Wests Tigers has sought to defend the club’s decision, saying that football is not just a game, it is a multi-million-dollar entertainment business, and saying further that the local fans seem reluctant to appreciate the commercial side of things.

Backsides on seats at venues such as Campbelltown Stadium do not seem to count as much to a football club as the guaranteed dollars that it will get for playing games at the Sydney Football Stadium. Apparently, the football club receives more money from a game at the Sydney Football Stadium if only one person decides to turn up. There is no question that Macarthur area rugby league fans have been very loyal to Wests Tigers. They pack the stadium for every home game. I would like to think the club is going to be loyal to its fans now and play more than three games at Campbelltown Stadium. Wests Tigers is a great, premiership-winning team; however they must know that Sydney’s south-west is a big market and that loyalty is there to be earned. Wests Tigers should also appreciate that commercial businesses have clients, customers and shareholders, whereas football clubs such as Wests Tigers rely on fans. It begs the question: what game are they playing?