The Wests Tigers may be playing one fewer game in Campbelltown next season, but the club’s boss says they are still committed to the region.
The club announced yesterday that they would be taking two home games – one each from their bases in Campbelltown and Leichhardt – from their traditional grounds to be played instead outside Sydney.
Chief executive Justin Pascoe said the decision was based purely on expanding the game of rugby league.
“The club has decided to play three games at both Campbelltown Sports Stadium and Leichhardt Oval in 2018 only at this stage because we were approached by the NRL to partner with them on new and exciting programs to develop the whole game of rugby league,” he said.
“We are one of many key stakeholders within the game of rugby league and we feel it a responsibility to ensure we contribute to the overall success and future of the sport.”
Local fans have suggested the dwindling crowd numbers at the Leumeah stadium could have been a factor in Wests Tigers’ decision to reduce their time in the area.
The number of games played by Wests Tigers (and the last two seasons of the Wests Magpies) at Campbelltown Stadium each season.
However, Mr Pascoe said this was not the case.
“This is not a crowd decision or financial decision, this is a decision based on the game of rugby league,” he said.
“You’ve seen again that Wests Tigers are in the top half of all clubs with average crowd numbers and we’re confident that with what we are building on and off the field we will make sure our fans and members are proud and our crowds will grow again next year.”
Mr Pascoe said engaging with the Macarthur region was still a priority for the club.
“The Campbelltown region is incredibly important to Wests Tigers, evident in the fact that we’re currently working with Campbelltown Council to secure a multi-year commitment to play NRL games at Campbelltown Sports Stadium,” he said.
“This would be the first time this has occurred since the joint venture was formed.
“The club is very active in the region with a range of community programs and is dedicated to making a positive impact in the lives of those it touches.
“Those community programs are growing year on year and the club is increasing its presence in the area through this and continually investing resources to support these initiatives.”
Mr Pascoe thanked local fans for their support of the club and promised the team would continue to support them.
“Wests Tigers remain dedicated to the area,” he said.
“The club is committed to bringing professional rugby league to the region well into the future.
“We look forward to strengthening our relationship with the area into the future.”
Campbelltown councillor and rugby league fan Paul Lake – a vocal advocate for professional sports and entertainment being played at Campbelltown Stadium – said he was “over” the club and was looking forward to seeing the stadium reach its potential.
“I’m all over them,” he said.
“I wish the Wests Tigers all the best in their decisions, I hope it all goes well for them.
“I’m keen to find out how we can best entice other sporting teams, entertainment and recreation to the venue so we can continue to thrive for the region.”
Cr Lake said he was waiting on a report back from council staff which would detail the best strategic function of the stadium to benefit both the council and the community.
“I think we need to take every opportunity we can to bring people to Campbelltown Stadium,” he said.
“This year we have four NRL games, a couple of trial matches, the Pacific Tests, some Western Sydney Wanderers games and FFA matches.
“If an NFL game can attract 30,000 people in Sydney maybe we can get something like that out here.”