The St George Illawarra Dragons advise that the newly formed Georges River Council had been recently informed by St George District RLFC representatives that the Club wanted to undertake a review of the lease arrangements for UOW Jubilee Oval, Kogarah which will expire in February 2017.
The representatives of St George District RLFC presented a number of co-operative, working options to the Georges River Council for consideration, including returning to the Council, the overall responsibility for the valuable community asset, with respect to maintenance and management.
The Dragons still want to play at Kogarah, and St George District RLFC want to see Rugby League continue to be featured at UOW Jubilee Oval.
Subsequently, Georges River Council has advised that they will take over the management of UOW Jubilee Oval, on the expiry of the lease.
The Dragons are committed to playing four home games at the venue in 2017 and requested confirmation of availability, from the Council, so that the Dragons can consider this when making decisions about home game venues when the NRL draw is released.
“UOW Jubilee Oval is an iconic suburban stadium in our heartland that St George District RLFC and the Dragons have worked very hard to develop and maintain for over more than 10 years, in particular – since its major re-development,” said Dragons CEO Peter Doust.
“Since 2005, the Dragons and the St George District RLFC have facilitated over $30million in re-development funding and with the assistance of our major shareholders, St George District RLFC, and St George Leagues Club, have funded the ongoing maintenance costs of the venue which total over $900,000 annually plus the Dragons incur an extra $100,000 per game in event costs, compared to costs at other venues.
“We believed it was time to see this vital and substantial community asset repositioned in terms of ongoing management, ongoing strategic development and availability for use.
“In conjunction with St George District RLFC and St George Leagues Club Management, we believe that reinvesting such a financial commitment would deliver the best outcome and would fit more appropriately with our business strategies including our Rugby League Pathways and Participation objectives.
“The Club remains committed to playing four NRL Premiership fixtures at the home venue next season which is why we sought confirmation for 2017 and presented the options.
“Our four year ‘Right Game Right Venue’ strategy will be reviewed throughout 2017 - this strategy has enabled us, by virtue of the savings made through the venue arrangements at the major stadia, to continue to play games at our suburban venues in Kogarah and Wollongong, which are significantly more expensive per event.
“We also want to continue to play games at Kogarah beyond 2017 and have begun negotiations in the new year with Georges River Council on a hiring agreement for 2018 and beyond.
Georges River Council Administrator John Rayner recognises the Club’s strong local supporter base and his intentions of keeping the Dragons at UOW Jubilee Oval, Kogarah have been noted and appreciated.
The Council will now also explore additional options to have the venue utilised by other sporting codes.
“Council will continue to provide a commitment to the Dragons to have access to UOW Jubilee Oval for the 2017 NRL season and beyond for games and training requirement,” said Rayner.
“By reviewing the current leasing arrangements for the stadium, Council has a great opportunity to not only establish a vibrant and accessible sporting precinct in the local area but also provide wider community access to the facility and look to the long-term commercial viability for the stadium.”
The 2017 NRL Draw is scheduled to be released on Thursday, November 24.