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Melbourne Storm and Sunshine Coast Council agree ongoing NRL game hosting deal

Melbourne Storm and Sunshine Coast Council agree ongoing NRL game hosting deal
August 18, 2020

The Sunshine Coast Council has agreed a deal with the Melbourne Storm for the NRL club’s last three home games of the regular season will be played at Sunshine Coast Stadium.

In the lead-up to the finals series, Storm will take on Manly in Round 16 on Sunday 30th August before taking on the North Queensland Cowboys in Round 18 on Sunday 13th September and then facing Wests Tigers on Saturday 19th September in Round 19.

Following concerns over lack of social distancing within the crowd in parts of the Sunshine Coast Stadium during the NRL clash between the Storm and Newcastle Knights on 2nd August, the Council has advised that the venue’s site-specific COVIDSafe plan has been reviewed and approved by the Queensland Health Public Health Unit.

The venue will now operate with an overall approved capacity of approximately 4,100, with individual seating on the eastern and southern mounds will again be included as part of the approval.

Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said the Council was excited to secure three more home games and continue to be Storm’s temporary home, announcing “it’s been very difficult circumstances for the NRL this year to continue during the COVID-19 pandemic, but for every storm there is a silver lining and that has been a terrific boost for our Sunshine Coast to host six games for the 2020 regular season.

“Our council has greatly valued its relationship with the Melbourne Storm and on behalf of our community, I want to thank the club for choosing our Sunshine Coast as their base at this time.

“I have no doubt that many members of our community will be cheering the Storm on as they prepare for the finals.

“Importantly, our partnership also includes the Storm promoting the Sunshine Coast destination throughout the 2021 season, which means we will see even more tourism benefits start to flow once borders open up again.

“Hosting the Storm home games this season has helped to put our region on the map nationally for an extended period of time and has also shone the light on the potential for the Sunshine Coast to one day host our own permanent NRL team.

“The lengths that we have gone to in hosting these games has also shown the need for both the State and Federal Governments to support council with its planned staged expansion of the Stadium.”

Storm Chief Executive, Dave Donaghy said the Sunshine Coast had proven to be a great home away from home in difficult times, noting “this has been a very challenging period for Storm, but the wonderful assistance of Sunshine Coast Council and the great support we’ve had from the wider Coast community has helped us through.

“It has really consolidated the close ties we already had with the Sunshine Coast.

“While our home will always be Melbourne, and we deeply miss our members and fans there, our players love running out onto Sunshine Coast Stadium, seeing all the purple in the crowd and hearing the cheers which are getting louder every week.

“This is an exciting time as we build towards the finals and we’re delighted to be able to share what is a unique experience with our members and fans here.”

Sunshine Coast Economic Portfolio Councillor Jason O’Pray commented on the learnings gained from hosting the Storm, adding “delivering these game days has undoubtedly been a learning curve and our stadium management team is comfortable that we have the appropriate systems and layout in place to provide a safe environment for these games.

“However, we continue to rely on patrons doing the right thing by adhering to social distancing and hygiene practices while attending the game and thank them in advance for their cooperation.”

Images: The Melbourne Storm take on the North Queensland Cowboys (top) and the Sunshine Coast Stadium (below).

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