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Melbourne Coronavirus situation sees State of Origin opener relocated to Townsville
Uncertainty created by Melbourne’s fourth Coronavirus lockdown has seen the NRL relocate game one of the 2021 State of Origin series on 9th June from the MCG to Townsville’s Queensland Country Bank Stadium.
With the NRL initially favouring relocating the game to another ‘neutral’ venue like Perth, Adelaide or Canberra, NRL Chief Executive Andrew Abdo announced that Townsville will host the game to ensure continuity of the competition.
Abdo advised "Townsville has the lowest risk of a COVID outbreak impacting the game and the least financial fallout of the available venues.
"Townsville is also a new, state-of-the-art venue with the capabilities to host an event with a global audience like Origin, placing it ahead of alternate regional locations.
"I understand some fans will have wanted a neutral venue, but the reality is we are working within a pandemic and we have to make decisions that ensure Origin proceeds as scheduled and with the lowest financial impact on the game."
The relocated fixture will be the first time a State of Origin game will have been played outside an Australian state capital city aside from the exhibition game played in Long Beach, California, USA at the end of the 1987 series.
With the Queensland Country Bank Stadium having a capacity of 27,327, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said 10 B-double trucks were on standby to take temporary grandstands to the venue.
Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said it faced stiff competition to secure the event, stating “there were a lot of naysayers out there who didn't think Townsville would ever be considered, even in our own community, but they've all been proved wrong."
Mayor Hill added that preparations to host the game will have to be completed in a tight timeframe, adding “we've pulled events together before but never with this short notice.
"But we have done it - we did something similar for the Broncos-Cowboys game, but I'm sure we can make the party bigger and better than anyone has ever seen."
The event is expected to inject about $5 million into the local economy.
Image: Queensland Country Bank Stadium. Credit: Cox Architecture.
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13th April 2021 - Uncertainty over Victorian stadia returning to full capacity
14th May 2021 - Suncorp Stadium ready for NRL Magic Round
23rd April 2021 - Public dispute over NRL culture in wake of sex tape leak
2nd April 2021 - NRL relocates round four fixtures to Sydney
24th March 2021 - NRL completes restructuring of its medical department
19th March 2021 - Cbus Super Stadium to host NRL game without COVID capacity restrictions
21st April 2021 - State of Origin returns to Optus Stadium in 2022
23rd February 2021 - 2021 State of Origin series opener to be played at the MCG
19th November 2020 - Suncorp Stadium’s State of Origin crowd gains global acclaim
18th November 2020 - Suncorp Stadium State of Origin decider sets world’s post-COVID attendance record
28th January 2021 - Hundreds of jobs promoted at Queensland Country Bank Stadium
14th March 2020 - Queensland Country Bank Stadium hosts first NRL fixture
21st February 2020 - North Queenslanders to take first look at new Queensland Country Bank Stadium
28th August 2020 - Super Netball commits to matches in Cairns and Townsville
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