Bears Forum Mod
Joined: 06 Aug 2004
|Posted: Thu Feb 22, 2018 8:08 pm Post subject: Western Bears
'Western Bears': North Sydney Bears back in hunt for NRL return after secret talks with WA group
The North Sydney Bears and a Western Australian consortium are exploring the prospect of joining forces to create a "Western Bears" franchise seeking inclusion in an expanded NRL competition.
Just a day after new ARLC chairman Peter Beattie declared rugby league must "expand or die", Fairfax Media can reveal former Western Reds chairman Laurie Puddy and North Sydney Bears chairman Perry Lopez have held a series of secret talks about a potential combined bid. While the negotiations are still in their infancy, both parties remain open to the prospect of working together to provide a compelling case for an NRL license.
The Bears recently pitched a dual-city model proposal when the Gold Coast Titans were put on the market, although the NRL opted to hand the license to the Rebecca Frizelle-Darryl Kelly consortium. Despite the setback, the Bears remain open to the idea of teaming up with an interstate contender as part of their bid for readmission.
"I have been talking to them," Puddy said of the discussions with North Sydney.
"It's very interesting. You're not going to get the people of Perth to support the North Sydney Bears coming out of Perth. We're talking about the Western Bears. Is there an opportunity to have some affiliation with them over here? Of course there is and that makes sense.
"I've had some discussions with them but until we get some direction and timing [from the NRL], we can't go to them with any sort of business plan."
Lopez believes a partnership with an interstate consortium could potentially bring additional corporate and fan support to an NRL license bid.
"We've spoken to potential Perth bidders and we think they would be a great fit," Lopez said.
"The model is the same, it doesn't matter what city it's in. Perth is crying out for rugby league, they've got an NRL double-header and a State of Origin game coming up.
"It's definitely on the horizon. We think the opportunity to play one or two games at North Sydney Oval or Central Coast Stadium are still there. At the end of the day we want our fans to be able to touch our brand at an NRL level and they could do that there.
"There's a major opportunity with corporates in Perth and we know they want to be part of the NRL as a national brand. The time is approaching and this could work.
"The Gold Coast didn't work for us for various reasons, but we think Perth could be a good opportunity."
The demise of the Western Force has left players and spectators without a professional rugby or league team to follow or aspire to. An NRL team in Perth would provide the NRL a truly national footprint and also be a boost for broadcasters, who would have a new timeslot for games because of the time difference.
The governing body hasn't added any teams since the Titans were introduced in 2007, while several were culled – including the Reds – after the Super League war. Beattie stressed that any expansion wouldn't come at the expense of existing clubs.
"The marketplace is ready for another code to step in after the departure of the Force," Lopez said.
"We're ready because we have supportive people on the eastern seaboard and 250,000 Bears fans that research tells us are ready to get on board."
Puddy, who predicted it would cost about $20 million to form a club from scratch, said Western Australia was capable of housing an NRL club regardless of North Sydney's involvement.
"It's important to recognise that the Perth Reds and Western Reds were not unsuccessful," Puddy said.
"They didn't fold because they were broke, they were the pawns in a bitter war with Super League. Twenty years ago we averaged 14,500 people to a game when the population in Perth was 1.2 million. Today it's closer to 3 million.
"The city is crying out for rugby league and you can't give it to them by taking a game here and there.
"It's good that Peter Beattie is giving that direction but now we need to know how and when it will happen. The [Perth] consortium that's waiting for some direction from the league has been there for some time, we just need to resurrect it. Getting money out of Perth is the easy bit."
Permanent Fixture at Bear Park
Joined: 17 Apr 2003
|Posted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 7:44 am Post subject:
|This could be of benefit to both sides, certainly less predatory than the Gold Coast proposal. It does have the benefit of delivering a ready-made supporter base in Sydney. Getting games at North Sydney Oval shouldn't be an issue - the club wouldn't have to move a home game as I expect that there would be Sydney clubs happy to sell their home games to other venues, as currently happens with clubs that already play in Gosford or Wellington for example. I suggested years ago that the Central Coast Stadium should target Sydney clubs to get them to move home games against Newcastle to Gosford.
I'd like to know where these 250,000 Bears fans come from though - that's over 1% of Australia's population, or 1.89% of the population of the rugby league stongholds of NSW, QLD and the ACT (not of all of whom follow rugby league). There are a lot of us around, but I don't think there are that many. If there are, it would be nice to see more of them at NSO during the season.