History, heritage, a shiny new stadium and financial backing to rival the Broncos are behind Brisbane Tigers’ fight to become the NRL’s 18th team.
The 106-year-old club on Wednesday officially launched its bid to become the fifth Queensland NRL team, two years after their Firehawks campaign was pipped by Redcliffe’s Dolphins.
This time the Tigers, known as Easts until their 2020 name change, will lean into their rich Brisbane rugby league history.
And their beefed-up bid has the added backing of a $10 million upgrade of their Langlands Park base just outside the city’s CBD.
It’s understood the consortium is open to a name change to avoid a clash with Sydney’s Wests Tigers, but that the Firehawks name is unlikely to be reprised.
ARLC chairman Peter V’landys is keen to add an 18th team as early as 2027 as part of a new TV rights deal, with an Australian government-backed Pasifika franchise based in Cairns one contender already floated.
A second New Zealand-based, a Perth option and the return of the North Sydney Bears are other potential options.
But the Tigers’ bid chairman Shane Edwards said the Dolphins’ successful arrival at NRL level proved another Brisbane team was needed.
The southside club would provide a cross-river rival to the Broncos while also looking to capture the growing west of the city towards Ipswich.
And the bid has the backing of the Easts Leagues Club juggernaut, while there are two more stages of development planned for a home ground that will host NRLW games later this year.
“South-east Queensland fans are craving more high quality rugby league, with our four existing Queensland-based teams still leaving our fans wanting more,” Edwards said.
Edwards said the bid was backed by a strong balance sheet, assets and a financial forecast to rival the Broncos and Dolphins.
“Suncorp Stadium has the capacity to support another NRL team,” he said.
“This year’s 27 rounds of the regular season will see nine weekends where no game is played at Lang Park.
“With the strong attendance and audience figures we are seeing the Dolphins achieve in their debut year, we believe the Brisbane Tigers can provide a similar stimulus in the south-west corridor that takes in the Logan and Ipswich regions.”
Broncos coach Kevin Walter tried to laugh off the latest Queensland expansion effort before agreeing the long-standing club’s bid had merit.
“How many do they want? I’m still getting over Redcliffe coming in,” he said.
“In fairness to the Tigers they’ve been a strong club for a long time, a lot of history and heritage at the Tigers.
“And I’m sure we could accommodate 10 teams here (in Queensland). People just love their footy so much.
“They’ve proved that with the Dolphins coming in. (If) another team comes in, bring it on, let’s go.”
(Australian Associated Press)