Bulldogs may return

Storm’s Cam Smith tackles Krisnan Inu at Virgin Australia Stadium.
Storm’s Cam Smith tackles Krisnan Inu at Virgin Australia Stadium. Lee Constable

HOPES of Mackay hosting an NRL match next season have been boosted, with Virgin Australia Stadium officials in discussions with the Canterbury Bulldogs to return next year.

After the overwhelming success of the round-16 June 24 match at Virgin Australia Stadium, ground representatives moved swiftly, signalling their intentions to Bulldogs officials they were interested in starting talks about hosting another match next year.

The Daily Mercury can reveal Virgin Australia representatives have been in negotiations with Canterbury Bulldogs chief executive Todd Greenberg for the past six weeks.

Talks have primarily focused on the main financial aspects of a possible return next year to Mackay.

Virgin Australia Stadium vice-chairman Brett Leach said talks with the club had been steadily progressing over the past month.

"We have been in negotiations with the Bulldogs to see if they are keen to return to Mackay next year," he said.

"There are still a number of various stages to get past before anything is confirmed regarding an NRL match in Mackay next season.

"I know the Bulldogs enjoyed their trip here this year and they even attracted 360 new members as a result."

It is understood the financial discussions have included how much money the stadium and Bulldogs aim to earn from a return NRL match next year, as well as flight costs to get sides to Mackay.

Virgin Australia Stadium officials are expected to continue their discussions over coming months, including a meeting with Greenberg in Sydney at Bulldogs headquarters.

Leach said the feedback Mackay had received from the NRL, Storm and Bulldogs from this year's match was positive.

"It was a really big benefit to the whole region to have the match here, with things running smoothly on the day at the stadium."

Mackay Tourism general manager Dave Phillips said while it was hard to confirm what the match this year generated in Mackay in regards to financials, hosting such a match had enormous flow-on effects.

"Staging a match like that increases Mackay's profile, helps the local economy and is great for the town," Phillips said.

Topics:  canterbury bulldogs nrl virgin australia stadium