nrl

Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs NRL Fan Experience at Belmore Sports Ground, Sydney, Australia 29/05/2022

Today was a game day fan experience that I’ve been wanting to do since the mid 90’s when I watched the Canterbury Bulldogs defeat Manly in the 1995 ARL Grand Final. 


I started the fan journey with a 25-minute train ride from Central Station to Belmore station before walking around the local streets to soak up the suburb and the game-day vibe. Blue and white streamers, balloons, and posters lined the shopfronts and it was evident that the locals really get behind the Bulldogs and game days here. 


The trip out to Belmore Sports Ground was enjoyable as I talked to a few Bulldogs fans on the train about Terry Lamb and the Dogs on what was a glorious Sunday afternoon in Sydney for my third and final game day this weekend in town. 


Hopping off the train at Belmore it was a quick walk following the Bulldogs fans the short distance to the Belmore ground entrance and through Terry Lamb reserve park. The Bulldog’s street art livened up the concrete facades while gate staff were pleasant, smiling, and wished us a good day at the match. 

I had wanted to check out some of the plaques, murals, memorbillia and the Canterbury Leagues Club which is adjacent to the train station however time got away from me as I wanted to get to the ground early. I’ll endeavour to check these out next time I’m out this way as I hope to be back for another game day at Belmore down the track.


It was really exciting upon entry to just soak up this gorgeous suburban footy ground from the grassy hill to the Peter Moore scoreboard and canteen. I walked around the length and breadth of the venue taking in all the angles from the Bulldog’s front entrance to the white bench seats and the main stand.

 
The food and beverage selection consisted of local food trucks and canteens selling standard footy fare like pies and chips along with kids’ favourites in cotton candy and ice cream while gourmet food items were also on offer and looked tasty from local businesses. Prices were standard from $5-15 while mid-strength cans of beer were $8 with only one beer variety available in Great Northern for obvious reasons given the one-off event here and the planning involved for catering. As for the beer tray price watch, these were free here. It’s always interesting to see the little things like the price of beer trays. Over this weekend they’ve ranged from $1.50 to 80c to free!


The fan engagement for kids and families was quality with face painting and kids jumping castle but even more, kids were just having fun rolling down the hills and passing or kicking footies with their families which looked like an enjoyable experience.


Toilets were scattered on either side and lines were only really heavy at halftime with men and women being able to get in and out fairly quickly from what I could witness. 


The hill was absolutely packed and looked incredible today with Bulldogs, Dragons, and Illawarra Steelers fans with 16,991 fans turning out to make this a huge sell-out crowd. It was a real carnival footy vibe with fans fully engaged in the community spirit of suburban footy as well as reconciliation week and the focus of the Indigenous round. 


The Indigenous focus for NRL Indigenous Round featured a respectful welcome to country, singers, and music on the land of the Dharug, Eora & Bediagal Peoples. 


The dogs tried to come back a few times but the Dragons pulled away too quickly and ran out 34-24 winners on a sunny but very windy and chilly day at Belmore. I was very glad I brought my heavy retro Bulldogs jersey to the game as it was very chilly on the hill by 4pm.


The merchandise tent and mobile store had fans lined up as items like the indigenous jersey and retro cord Bulldogs caps went flying out the door. I really liked seeing the use of the old Bulldogs logos too around the venue and on merchandise and hope other teams start to bring these back as well.

I also thought that it was clever that some fans had brought in their own milk crates to enable their kids to get a better vantage point on the hill as well.


The exit from the match was easy with the train station right at the stadium and within a 5-8 minute walk before the 20-odd minute train ride back to the Sydney CBD. 


I was so excited today to tick off another Australian sporting venue in Belmore Sports Ground and would encourage any fan to get out here the next time they bring a game day here as it is truly something special to witness at such an iconic ground.

Cronulla Sharks NRL Fan Experience at Points Bet Stadium/Shark Park, Cronulla, Sydney, 28/05/22

It was a cool night in Sydney as I made the trek from Central station down south to Woolaware station in Cronulla for the Sharks versus Roosters (Cronulla vs Easts) NRL rugby league match at Points Bet Stadium or Shark Park (or Caltex Field) for the league aficionados. 


Taking the train for about $5 one way on the Sutherland line I left the city at about 5pm to travel the hour or so to the closest train station within walking distance to the stadium.


Arriving into Woolaware station just after 6pm, I walked the 15 minutes or so south through unlit suburban Cronulla streets to the stadium with other fans who had made the same journey. 


It’s an easy walk to the venue and you can hear the music and see the lights from the distance as you get closer but it’s also very dark along the path of the back streets to the ground so careful on your feet.


The stadium is undergoing construction all around it both for the stadium and for the buildings close by however this didn’t stop the game from being a sell-out with fans flocking to the popular indigenous round game tonight. 


This is an old-school venue without the bells and whistles, without the tech, with the lines and bottlenecks but it’s also a ground with soul, community vibes and a charm that is hard to beat. The fans bring the atmosphere and combined with the energy on the hill, the match days here are electric and pumping. 


Walking into the venue through the old turnstile hut, we were greeted with a polite welcome and asked if we knew where we were going which is 10/10 for customer service and the fan journey to have someone offer to assist you in my opinion. 


Making my way inside I grabbed a beer at the first bar I found which was charging $8.50 for middies but in tinnies and 80c for a cardboard tray. The ability to get an ice-cold tin at the footy seems to be lost in some states’ venues across Australia but in Sydney, it’s great to be able to crack a coldie and take up a view from the hill. It’s relaxed and enjoyable to stand on the grassy hill, strike up a conversation with other fans and take in the action on the field. Retro sharks jerseys were abundant tonight and you could have made about 20 full teams of players in Power’s Brewers retros or Aussie Duct kits.


I walked around the venue a couple of times to soak it all up here, from the smells of hot cinnamon donuts and spicy bratwursts cooking to the sounds of laughter from families and kids rolling down the hill and kicking footies to each other. It’s all just a really positive community vibe out here at Cronulla. 


The food and beverages ranged from the standard fare of pies and hot dogs to gourmet bratwursts (standard $12 and double bangers $20!) and buttermilk chicken burgers and crisps for $15.50. There was also ice cream, souvlaki, nachos, and the ever-popular chips on a stick. Prices were standard for footy matches with the main difference being the abundance of local gourmet food truck offerings. Lines were long at times and bottlenecks formed due to the compact size of the venue and narrow concourses however like most venues you can bring in your own snacks and it’s always best to grab food before the match kicks off plus these lines got smaller as the game got underway. 


The fan engagement (kids jumping castle) and activations from sponsors (player photo ops and giveaways to fans) as well as the half time entertainment were quality with the indigenous focus for NRL Indigenous Round being a highlight to see Australian country legend Col Hardy perform ‘I am, You Are, We Are Australian’ to a rapturous sing-along and applause from the crowd. The fireworks and music also added to the atmosphere. 


A highlight before kick-off was the exceptional welcome to country by a lovely lady whose name I missed on the night. This indigenous elder spoke so beautifully about respect, inclusion and community and summed up so perfectly the basis of the round and also what we can all do to make our country a more respectful and tolerant place to live in.


The Kurranulla Sharks got flogged from the get-go by the Gadigal Roosters in this one-sided match with Easts running out 36-16 winners in a dissapointing night for local fans and a score I didn’t predict and which ruined my tips. All was not lost though as we and many others had a fantastic time at Shark Park with local fans. 


The exit home from Shark Park was a brisk 15-minute walk back to the train station at Woolaware and then a 50-minute train ride home to Central station. The only downside was that the toilets were locked at Woolaware station which frustrated some fans and even police who were annoyed that they couldn’t use them. 


Overall a quality night out at Cronulla’s home venue of Points Bet/Shark Park stadium with much to enjoy about the fan experience here on a moving indigenous round night. 

NRL MAGIC ROUND 2022 Fan Experience Review, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane 13-15 May 2022

The annual NRL Magic Round event was back at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium for 2022 and despite a week when the rain across Queensland caused persistent widespread flooding the event still drew over 100,000 fans through the turnstiles across the three event days.

With the rain falling heavily across the Friday and Saturday but easing on the third day, fans made their way into the stadium precinct decked out with ponchos and umbrellas but still managed to bring all their colour and atmosphere from the thousands of retro to modern rugby league jerseys on display from fans of all ages. This is a true celebration of rugby league and league fans with supporters rocking Gold Coast Chargers and Seagulls kits to South Queensland Crushers and Western Reds jerseys amongst the smorgasbord of the current 16 NRL teams. It’s this colour, fan passion and atmosphere that is a magical component of this event off the field.

The downloadable stadium map and event guide were handy additions to kick start the planning of the fan journey at Magic Round with the map coming in handy to locate all of the activations both inside and outside the venue. The 32-page event guide had information on merchandise, activations, match-ups, key timings and more valuable information to ensure fans knew everything they needed to know to capitalise on a massive fun weekend of rugby league.

After reminiscing over some old footy cards and beers we decided to head in for the matches on Saturday at 1PM. We made our way into the stadium precinct on the train from Dutton Park station into Roma Street station in the city with the train being packed with rugby league fans in a positive vibe for the three matches being played today for day two. It was a sea of league fans of all ages walking through The Barracks centre in Milton down to Suncorp Stadium and despite the rain that lingered for most of the day and night the fans were still in a very upbeat mood with the bars along Caxton Street pumping with conversations, beers and footy food as thousands of fans commandeered the road heading down to the venue. It was also nice to see the new artwork ‘Welcome’ which featured 25 laser-cut steel hunting boomerangs with welcome greetings in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language dialects.

What’s On at the Stadium: Precinct

Making my way around the Suncorp Stadium precinct from the Caxton Street end to the Roma Street end the event offered an outstanding first impression of the event presentation that included plenty of activations for fans of all ages such as:

1. Bundy Pop Up Bar

Fans were able to grab a drink from the Bundy Pop Up Bar with the first fans to purchase a Bundy from the Bundaberg Pop Up Bar each day of NRL Magic Round receiving a double pass upgrade for a specific match into the Bundy Backyard Deck inside the stadium. This bar shed was at an entrance point of the NRL Fan Zone area and it was good to see security guards helping people by warning them to be careful entering the space as the ground was slippery and getting slightly muddy.

2. Chemist Warehouse Chill Out Zone

This was a relaxing spot for fans to kick back and chill with deck chairs and beanbags to watch the big screen during and between matches. I believe the deck chairs may have been packed up due to the rain at some point as it would not have been the best setting for them with the rain falling nonstop. Fans also received free gift bags that included chemist items like moisturiser and sunscreen along with a gym towel which for many fans, myself included is stuff I will actually use.  Mascot Wally the Chemist Warehouse Mascot (how did they come up with a mascot name for CW?) surprised fans with upgrades into the Chemist Warehouse Deck inside the venue while there was a fun reaction wall game to play. I finished on 29 which wasn’t too bad considering the top score was 37. I’ll put that down to my good skills in quick thinking and reaction time to putting out arguments amongst grade 4 students that made me go fairly well in this fun game.

3. CUB Great Northern Bar

The CUB beer garden was open between matches where fans could enjoy a drink from the Great Northern bar. The first 50 people to purchase a drink also received a stubby cooler. This was a nice set up that faced away from the venue and towards Caxton street with a live stage below featuring artists playing tunes.

4. Ampol Magic Carpet

Fans were able to experience walking down the red carpet by taking their best Ampol Magic Carpet photo. By sharing it across socials they had the chance to be upgraded into the Ampol Deck inside the stadium. We had a go of this and I even used the fuel bowser emoji in my witty caption all to no avail….must of been the Illawarra Steelers jersey I was wearing. Still a lot of fun for my friends and I to take home a few photos.

5. YOUI Magic Kick

Fans could come down to the Youi Magic Kick in the Precinct to have a go at kicking a footy through the posts!

6. Harvey Norman Photo Station

If fans visited the Harvey Norman station they could collect their FREE magic round photo as well as purchase limited edition Magic Round personalised NRL products. This was a fun activation with my mates and I getting snapped for an event pic that was free to take home. The personalised merch also looked really colourful too.

7. Letter Lights

Fans could grab a photo in front of the Giant Magic Round Letter lights to then share it on channels to #NRLMagic.

8. Swyftx Giant Human Claw

The Swyftx Giant Human Claw was giving away thousands of dollars in prizes over NRL Magic Round weekend, including $5,000 in Bitcoin every day.  Fans could come down and participate in the human-sized version of the traditional arcade game to win these prizes. I watched this for a few participants to have their go and it was actually pretty entertaining. There were obviously a lot of OWHS things to consider with this activation and the weather did not make it any easier. Watching a fan dive down to get an NRL ball and then that ball revealing a prize was quite entertaining and there was certainly enough interest from the fans who had lined up to have a go.

9. Food Trucks

There were plenty of food truck options with gourmet offerings including Eat Fresh kebabs, Chipstars, Brat Haus, Dinky D’d Doughnuts and more. $7 for a dagwood dog and $13 kebabs were affordable for a snack in this fan precinct even if you weren’t intending to go into the venue as this was a fun spot to sit, watch the games and drink and eat.

10. EISS Super Ball

Get your photo taken in front of the giant EISS Super and Steeden Inflatable football.

11. Kids Zone

Magic Round brings the festival vibes for the whole family! Kids were able to get a photo with their favourite team’s mascot, get geared up with face painting, & show off their skills with the magic pass the Ball. With the rain falling all around some fan activities were slow to get going as fans didn’t want to wait in the lines with the rain however it didn’t stop many families and kids from still participating in these free fun activities to take home some memories.

12. NRL Merchandise

Fans could grab their Magic Round mementos exclusively at the venue at the six or so merchandise outlets around the stadium! All 16 teams’ merchandise was also available for purchase like retro jerseys. I was able to pre-plan the purchase of some merch for my daughter like a football and a bucket hat for my work at school by looking through the event guide before heading in, however due to the popularity of many items, these sold out quick smart which was unfortunate but shows the popularity of fans who want to support the NRL, love rugby league and want to rep all 16 teams. Plus the designs were pretty neat too.

What’s On at the Stadium: In-Ground

1. Telstra Live Stage

The Telstra Live Stage hosted music entertainment, DJ’s and performances throughout the NRL Magic Round weekend and was located in the corner of the venue.

2. KFC Fry/No Fry Banners

Fans could give their viewer’s verdict with the KFC Fry/No Fry banners. KFC brand ambassadors inside the stadium handed out Fry/No Fry banners to fans. KFC was also surprising and delighting lucky fans across the weekend with KFC vouchers to redeem KFC.

3. Steeden Magic Ball

Players were throwing Steeden NRL Magic Round footies into the crowd after each match for fans to keep as well as using the tee shirt gun to fire off what I presume were jerseys or shirts from various teams.

4. KFC Bucket Catch

Two lucky fans picked from the crowd matched up against each other on the field during half-time at selected matches across NRL Magic Round weekend. Each fan had to catch as many footies as possible in their KFC bucket to WIN KFC vouchers and merchandise!

5. Telstra Fan Cam

Fans could get involved with the Telstra Fan Cam to win a signed jersey from their favourite NRL team.

6. Ampol Pump It Up Cam

Fans could show their support for their team with the Ampol Pump It Up Cam for their chance to win a $100 fuel voucher. The big screens featured hilarious kiss cams, ‘make some noise’ call outs as well as oblivious cam and a few other funny moments that got a good reception from the crowd. 

7. Telstra Tracker LED Race

Lucky fans across NRL Magic Round weekend got the chance to race against some of the fastest players in the game. The one we saw was able to beat the Telstra Tracker and was quite fast.

8. Ampol Deck

The Ampol ‘Australia’s Own’ Deck was Australian-themed and included a full food & beverage package for guests.  Fans could take their best red-carpet photo at the Ampol Magic Carpet activation in the stadium precinct and share it across socials for the chance to be upgraded into the Ampol Deck. This was a brightly blue coloured event space at the Caxton Street end inside one of the stadium corners and stood out amongst the other social spaces.

9. Bundy Backyard Deck

The Bundy Backyard Deck was the ideal spot to kick back with mates for the best seats in the house at NRL Magic Round.  Guests received full food and beverage offering and the opportunity to meet and greet with NRL legends.  Fans who were one of the first to purchase a Bundy from the Bundy Pop Up Bar in the stadium precinct each day of NRL Magic Round were lucky to receive a double pass upgrade for a specific match into the Bundy Backyard Deck inside the stadium for the best seats in the house. This was another themed social space that looked really impressive for the presentation in one of the corners of the venue.

10. Chemist Warehouse Deck

Guests to the Chemist Warehouse deck received full food and beverage offering, the opportunity to meet and greet with NRL legends and an exclusive product gift bag upon arrival. A relaxing spot in the corner of the venue.

11. Free flags for supporter bay fans

Fans who purchased a supporter bay ticket were able to collect a free supporter flag that featured all 16 club logos on a colourful flag design. They were handing these out to fans everywhere and I was lucky enough to get one for my daughter which will go nicely in her room. A really nice simple touch for a physical item that fans could take home.

12. Lighting

The light shows and themed LED lighting was vibrant and looked good both inside the stadium and on TV. The ability to switch between themes either teams or colourful light shows added to the atmosphere and created a positive vibe to make this a big-time event. The fireworks and flames at the end of the try lines also pumped up the crowd either when the teams were running out or when tries were scored.

Fan Experience Elements

While thousands of fans made for a busy stadium precinct both inside and out it was clear that venue did a very good job of keeping fans safe and ensuring the fan experience was quality. With the rain falling constantly and fans getting wet it was good to see the concourses being managed well to allow the safe and efficient flow of fans despite fans crowding along the bays to try to stay dry and still watch the game. Security and ushers were managing this as best they could under the circumstances.

The staff were really efficient and attentive as I made three enquiries and had interactions with different staff members over the course of the night for some things that I thought needed to be addressed such as glass in the concourse area, catering staff inadvertently blocking a stairwell and an aggressive fan who was throwing items onto the field and agitating other fans. In every situation, the venue and security staff were very helpful and switched on to ensure fans were having an enjoyable event experience.

Food and beverage options were plentiful and inclusive with the frozen cocktails proving to be very popular amongst fans along with Pirate Life craft beer for beverages. It was good to see the dedicated vegan stand in action along with vegan and gluten-free options available in the concession outlets while there were combo deals available as well. From pies, pizza slices and chicken wings and chips to American BBQ, fish and chips and hot dogs, there really was something here to tempt all tastebuds with many prices being affordable and expected for major event days. Beers ranged from $9-11 with most food around the $6-16 mark. I had a fairly decent salad sandwich and 600ml Coke Zero which came in at $11 and which I thought was pretty good value for a footy feed.

Toilets were clean and lines, even for female fans seemed to be moving fast. Staff were abundant around the venue and were seen cleaning constantly throughout the night. I said to one staffer that he was doing a good job and he said no one has ever said that before. It’s something I make a point of doing, especially for cleaning staff and young folks on the concession registers. They do a good job and deserve to be told they’re going well so if you’re at a venue then make sure you give them a little shout out.

The exit at the end of the night was efficient and seamless with buses, trains and taxis all flowing from the venue and making it easy for fans to get home safely. Way-finding signs as well as helpful staff directing fans also just made the exit swift and simple after a long day at the venue. 

NRL Magic Round is an event like no other. The fans are equal to the athletes in terms of the atmosphere and colourful vibe that the event brings and it’s certainly a major sporting event that I reccomend any rugby league or sports fan to go and check out.

Fan Engagement Friday: News from around the grounds 29/4/2022

A weekly recap of some of the interesting stories and developments from the educational to the random in the world of fan engagement/experience, stadium/venue news, fan behaviour and psychology and customer service plus much more. Enjoy

Scran? No scran? The new food culture at football grounds

What’s new in Major League ballparks in 2022

Bengals’ $455m stadium is in such great shape it only needs $493m in upgrades, says architect

Dad things: Reds fan makes amazing catch while feeding baby

T-Mobile Park set to be first ballpark in MLB to open a store powered by both Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology and Amazon One

New York Islanders Integrate BlueJeans by Verizon to Elevate HOMEICE Fan Experience

How sports fans use data analytics to increase their enjoyment and understanding of sport

AFL Mint to release limited edition moments across AFL and AFLW

Melbourne Victory launch Victory Burger for fans!

NHL tech showcase focuses on fan experience

Player announcement drawings by @1fcn

Bolton Wanderers Jon Daddi Bavardsson playing penalties with young fan outside stadium.

Chelsea FC tackles food waste with new venue program for unused food

Populous and Kansas City Pioneers unveil “The Arena” NFT collection

Gamers get chance to play on Kauffman Stadium’s jumbotron ahead of tournament

The Miami Marlins have an amazing deal on the world’s saddest tacos

3 Top Tips You Can Implement Today To Maintain Great Customer Service!

Seattle Mariners to use Amazon’s ‘Just Walk Out’ and palm-scanning tech in new stadium market

Turkish sports stadium takes Guinness World Records title for solar output

Boston’s Fenway Park opens contactless food and drink stores

Ejected: What happens when a fan is banned from a stadium?

The Atlanta Hawks’ State Farm Arena takes world-leading step towards sustainability

Statement on the Fan Led Review of Football Governance

NBA offers more free ‘The Association’ NFTs to fans after minting mishap

Six Major Steps To Improving Your Team’s Customer Service Skills

Hockey lover wins a luxury vacation. Atlanta pro team backs out of deal.

Fan Experiences Startup Vaunt Raises $5M, Investors Include Justin Tuck, Michele Roberts, Dodgers’ Elysian Park Ventures

Technology is saving the live sports experience

Celtic latest to launch digital cards via Sorare

Liverpool Could Become The First Premier League Club To Have Cryptocurrency As Main Shirt Sponsor

58% Of Customers Will Pay More For Better Customer Service

Ipswich Town Named EFL Family Club of the Year

ASM Global to deploy facial recognition technology across venues

NHL, technology partners showcase next generation of fan experience

Grimsby Town Paint the Town Proud initiative

NRL Preliminary Final South Sydney Vs Manly Sea Eagles, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane 24th September 2021

Images from the South Sydney Rabbitohs 36-16 win over Manly at Suncorp Stadium on Friday 24th September 2021.

  • Vaccinations at the game
  • Beer prices rise by 60c since last Broncos match 
  • VB fan zone area
  • Good to get 4 Pines but $11.80 is steep but it does taste better!
  • New LED sport lighting

BBC Radio London Live Interview 28/11/2020

After the conclusion of the third and final deciding State of Origin match on 28th November 2020 I did a live cross interview to BBC London to talk about the COVID restrictions at the game and how the event was managed. I did one call while still at the game as the siren had just sounded on another Queensland series win while I did another quick cross on the walk back to my house at 11pm 

I was recently sent the audio to both add to my site here but also for my own personal record as it will be something interesting to look back on down the track especially considering when you think about where Australia was at this point in time compared to the rest of the world (this match was the biggest crowd since the pandemic began) and then subsequently what played out only a few months later in Australia due to the total incompetence and poor leadership of our pathetic Liberal Government. Well it’s true….

Link to blog post from the match: https://mrblairhughes.com/state-of-origin-iii-queensland-vs-nsw-suncorp-stadium-brisbane-18-11-2020/ 

Brisbane Broncos Vs Wests Tigers NRL Game Day, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Australia 18/07/2021

A special moment in my life as I take my baby Ramona Josie along to her first ever rugby league and Brisbane Broncos match day at Suncorp Stadium. And what a fabulous first game day it was for her and I.

 

Brisbane Broncos Vs Gold Coast Titans NRL Fan Experience, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Queensland 27/06/20

Here’s a snapshot documenting the fan journey tonight heading back to the Brisbane Broncos game days at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia on Saturday night.

10,000 fans were allowed back on the night for the NRL game.

Train to the game. Chelmer station to Milton station. Free transport still on offer for fans here heading the game.

Note the clear communications around ticket conditions for the COVID19 plan on this game day.

The march to the stadium from the station. Not as vocal as usual but grateful and lucky to be back here.

Ticketing. Paper PDFs or mobile ticketing only. Gates open only from 45 minutes before kick off.

F&B. Cashless/card only. Line markings. Social distancing maintained and respected by fans. Speed was fast to be served. Staff friendly and good on them for being back too. They need this for jobs as well.

Seating. Strictly only allowed to use the 2 seats you were able to purchase and must keep 1.5m away from each other. Must remain within the zone allocated on your ticket.

Hand sanitizer stations abundant throughout the venue.

Well done to all of the staff from the Broncos membership team to the venue staff and everyone else in between who put this on for fans with only a few day’s notice. Huge respect for that team work.

Cowboys New Home Musters Community Excitement in North Queensland

Cowboys New Home Musters Community Excitement in North Queensland

 

It’s the dawn of a new era and the atmosphere is buzzing in Townsville as the NRL’s North Queensland Cowboys and local region hosts the inaugural sporting event at Australia’s newest major venue, Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

 

Built by North Queenslanders for North Queenslanders in a home-grown effort involving the Queensland and Australian Government’s, Townsville City Council and close to 500 local businesses, the $290M world-class facility represents a proud moment for the city. Having experienced rough times in recent years, the new stadium acts as a catalyst for economic rejuvenation and urban regeneration and from experiencing this first hand it is clearly revitalising the local community and surrounding regions.

 

Standing on the Wulgurukaba traditional owners land in the heart of the Townsville CBD, here is my latest review where I highlight the impressive features of Queensland Country Bank Stadium and the Cowboys game day fan experience on what was a rollercoaster ride day for the nation and sports fans alike due to the unprecedented Coronavirus concerns that very nearly saw this opening event called off.

 

Fan Engagement:

Arriving early at the venue on a scorching hot Friday afternoon to do a pre-game walk around, it was clear from first impressions that the venue exudes a uniquely North Queensland identity which has been designed with the fan experience at the forefront.

The North Queensland Cowboys fan first approach starts well before the match as I joined hundreds of fans in the first ever ‘Cowboys Stampede’ march to the stadium from the Cowboys Leagues club which was an exciting experience on the night and a tradition that looks set to continue on game days into the future.

 

The pre-game fan engagement continues outside the ground as fans can experience the ‘Captain’s Walk’ where names of Cowboys legends and supporters are etched into pavers while fans were also instantly captivated by the chance to get photos with the life-size bronze statue of Cowboys legend Johnathan Thurston that was designed by local artist Jane Hawkins to honour his contribution to North Queensland sport.

 

Impressive screen content, engaging performances and promotions and at last count seven mascots kept fans entertained all night long inside while outside fans of all ages enjoyed a dedicated fan engagement zone as well as receiving a free Cowboys flag on entry to commemorative the opening game here.

 

Transport:

 

Transport was a seamless experience from the CBD with free game day express event buses organized to transport fans around while multiple park and ride or walk options made it simple for those fans wishing to park the car nearby and access the venue with free parking also available after 2pm in the CBD. Ride share and taxi zones as well as accessible pick up and drop off areas ensured every patron can easily access the venue however with the stadium centrally located in the heart of the city, walking was also seen by the majority of fans to be the easiest way to get to and from the stadium.

 

Architecture:

 

Designed by Cox Architecture and constructed by WATPAC on the banks of Townsville’s Ross River, the centrally located stadium was delivered on schedule and to budget and has a host of smart architectural features that add to its iconic North Queensland design.

 

A horseshoe shaped cantilever roof with plates inspired by the native tropical Pandanus plant forms the centerpiece of the stadium design and makes the venue instantly recognizable to global audiences. This unique design also provides the strength to resist North Queensland’s cyclonic winds as well as allowing the roof to expand and contract to the city’s tropical temperatures.

 

Green spaces are abundant with over 100 trees and 30,000 plants spread throughout the venue while a lush grassed parkland and plaza at the northern end of the venue provided a family friendly atmosphere for fans to meet and mingle in before entering the venue.

 

The stadium has also been specifically positioned to face north in order to catch the breezes while it’s spacious open design showcases the stunning panoramic views of the city and Castle Hill which now instantly makes it one of the most picturesque stadiums in Australia to visit.

 

Technology:

 

Audio-visual capabilities are state of the art and delivered an immersive experience through a lighting set up which made the field vibrantly pop with colour while the sound system pumped out team announcements, music and a hype reel countdown in clear and crisp audio.

 

An imposing 200sqm HD scoreboard at the northern end is strategically positioned to be viewed by all spectators while the multicoloured LED lights incorporated into both the roof and translucent kites showcased an exciting and memorable pre-game light show with Cowboys themed lighting displays switching between strobe, flash and still which amplified the crowd atmosphere.

 

The free QCB Stadium and Cowboys app’s both provided an informative and effective user experience that highlighted important game day information for fans such as F&B offerings, news, transport guidance, seating maps, the ability to purchase tickets and merchandise, accessibility information as well as the ability to connect to the venues WiFi which was fast and reliable when speed tested throughout various moments of the game day.

 

Seating:

 

There is not a bad view in the house with 25,000 Cowboys coloured seats highlighting a contemporary stadium design that puts every fan within close proximity to the lush field to ensure an edge of your seat pulsating experience.

 

The configuration of the stadium sees four primary seating areas with roof shades covering 75% of the ground while a unique part of the design in the northern end features open standing areas where fans can enjoy breathtaking sightlines of the try line in a relaxed and informal setting next to bars and food outlets. Cup holders also compliment seating in the western grandstand while multiple disability seating options and family rooms with showers and change tables all highlight what an inclusive, comfortable and accessible venue this is.

 

F&B:

 

An extensive selection of food and beverage choices are available to suit all tastes with Pandanus Catering putting a key focus on ensuring the majority of produce is locally sourced from the North Queensland region to ensure a truly home grown experience.

 

Gourmet, value and variety are at the core of an inclusive foodie fan experience here with affordable options ranging from 12” ‘Cowboys’ hot dogs, local reef fish and Red Rooster chicken to ‘Stockman’s’ tropical burgers, vegetarian burritos and vegan pies all available throughout the venues 29 F&B concession stands ensuring fans never have to go far to grab some quality game day grub.

 

Uniquely themed public bars such as the Castle Hill Bar, Long Bar and City View Bar are scattered throughout the venue offering fan favourites XXXX and Bundaberg Rum and are complimented by outstanding views of the field and local attractions. Meanwhile, Cowboys members can even enjoy their very own ‘Cowboys Castle’ craft beer from local microbrewery Tiny Mountain Brewing Co that is available in their exclusive ‘Cowboys Castle’ members bar on game days. Fans will also appreciate the ability to walk around the entire 9m wide, 600m circumference of the stadium concourse to check out the full F&B range and take in spectacular views of the field of play from different vantage points.

 

 

Hospitality:

 

Located in the western grandstand, the stadium includes a diverse range of exciting hospitality experiences to suit every budget from premium offerings such as the elegantly decked out Chairman’s Club ‘Shorty’s’ with it’s unrivaled guest service and delicious delicacies to the relaxed and vibrant Sky Deck on level 4 that features breathtaking panoramic views of the pitch and city for those instant shareable social media moments. The impressive club lounge and ground level field club along with the 88 external boxes and 17 suites highlights a first class hospitality experience that is sure to be very popular on game days for those guests looking to network and enjoy premium F&B and live entertainment in comfortable surroundings.

 

Conclusion

 

While the opening match may have started with a tough 28-21 loss at the hands of state rivals Brisbane, it was a spectacular win for both North Queensland Cowboys fans who will continue to experience exciting game days here as well as the local region who will benefit from the positive economic and social outcomes that transpire from this marvelous new venue in tropical Townsville.

 

BIO:

 

Blair Hughes is an award winning, globally respected fan engagement specialist who helps clients in the sports, music and craft beer industries grow their fan bases, improve fan experiences and create new business and revenue opportunities. You can follow him on Twitter at @MrBlairHughes or at www.MrBlairHughes.com.

I Asked Every NRL Club Why I Should Become A Member…..Here Are The Responses

The NRL season is back soon and along with my fellow NRL and rugby league fans, I am pumped to be getting back out to games at a time when the game seems to be even bigger than ever…..but maybe it’s just Tina Turner singing in the background. Anyway…..

In an effort to see why I should become a member of an NRL club and what benefits each team offered their fans for the 2020 season, I sent an email under the alias Jack Gilmore (a combination of two of my favourite fictional film sports characters in Jackie Moon from Semi-Pro and Happy Gilmore from Happy Gilmore) to ask a couple of questions and see how teams would reply. (Note: Having worked with the majority of clubs in some capacity, I used an alias because if I used my real name they’d have caught on straight away and I wanted to get 100% honest and genuine replies).

I wanted to see the following:

  • Who responded the quickest
  • Who didn’t respond at all. Hopefully, they’d all reply. Every team needs every fan to sign up to increase memberships.
  • Why I should become a member of each club and who answered the specific question ‘Why Should I Become A Member of your club’
  • What benefits were included in memberships compared to others across the NRL
  • Who was persistent and followed up by trying to get the membership and sale finalized 
  • Who came across as genuine and authentic rather than an auto-reply response

Here are the results:

National Rugby League:

  • 11 of the 16 teams I emailed had replied with responses at the time of writing this blog post on Wednesday morning 4/3/2020.
  • Six teams replied with automatic responses within one minute of my email (these were Newcastle, NZ, Melbourne, Parramatta, Brisbane, and Gold Coast) with four of these following up afterward with more detailed responses. This was a simple way to both illustrate that the team had received the email, that the fan would get a reply soon and that they immediately received confirmation that their request was being actioned.
  • The Storm and Knights didn’t follow up on their initial emails saying they’d get back to me though which is fine as you’d assume that more than likely a fan would follow up with the auto-reply.
  • Not a single club sent a follow-up email when I had not responded within a week so it would be interesting to see how persistent they are before getting back to these potential fans to try to sign them up closer to the season start date. You have to be persistent. 
  • Only 8 of 16 actually bothered to answer my question about why I should support the team. Listening is vital. 

Response Times:

I sent an email out to every team’s membership email account at 10am on Tuesday the 25th of February which stated:

“Hello, 

I’m looking at becoming a member this year having recently relocated back home. 

Just a GA seat, one seat for me, cheapest, please.

What is the best reason to become a member of the club and why should I bother? 

Any incentives, deals, promos? What do you guys do for me as a member that’s good? 
Can you send me any details on membership packs and what I get in them too, please?
Thanks”

At the time of writing this on 4/3/2020, of the 16 teams I wrote to using their membership emails, only 11 of the clubs responded to my email asking about becoming a member.

I followed up with an email to the five who didn’t respond on Wednesday morning 4 March seeking to see about a reply to my initial email. It’s totally understandable that these emails can fall through the cracks but for someone wanting to sign up it’s imperative that this happens infrequently so as to avoid a potential lost sale and membership.

By Wednesday afternoon I had heard back from two more clubs so 13 of the 16 had responded by Wednesday afternoon.

Of the 11 teams who responded after my initial email:

  • Fastest response: 11 minutes from Parramatta. Brilliant.
  • 6 responded within 42 minutes
  • 8 responded on the same day
  • 10 responded within 1 day and a few hours
  • 8 actually answered the question I asked about why it’s worth becoming a member and why I should do that

I guess what was one thing that was interesting was that of the six teams who followed up instantly with automatic replies saying they’d get back to me ASAP, two of those (Melbourne and Newcastle) didn’t actually respond until I wrote back to them and then they did which was great to see.

An important thing to note is that I don’t think fans should expect a reply straight away and the clubs made mention of this in the automatic replies that they’d respond in one to two days. However, it is absolutely vital that all enquiries are actioned and the loop is closed sufficiently by replying to either get the fan over the line and bag the sale/membership and/or to collect the data (name/email) to follow up with at a later point when trying again whether that is next week, month or season. They’ve reached out to you and are halfway towards a sale. 

The following is the time the team responded along with the total time from

Lessons:

  • It is vital to follow up with everyone who contacts your business. And then follow up again….and again. Not harassing them and certainly not when they’ve told you to stop but you have to be persistent. Sometimes it’s a long game. They have made the effort to engage with you which means they are halfway there to a sale.
  • It’s great to have an automatic reply but if you don’t follow up these are pointless.
  • Being genuine and authentic will lead to a sale. The responses below where the membership team person went out of their way to tell me why I should sign up actually enticed me to think about doing just that if I lived locally to those clubs.
  • Answering the question that is asked cuts down time for both parties back and forth, gives the person what they’re after and highly likely leads to a sale as they have all the information to make an informed buying decision.
  • Asking to call or grab a number is important. The more info you can collect the better but also the chances of a sale are higher if you can speak to a person and state your case effectively and clearly in person or over the phone.
  • Never be afraid to upsell or talk about add-on’s and trying to sell other items. Sometimes the customer/fan doesn’t know what’s available and you might just have an even better deal for them plus bringing in more selling points leads to more sales. I was surprised that no one bothered to talk about hospitality or merchandise or try to push me with upselling to get even more bang for my buck (although perhaps that’s where they did listen as I mentioned I only wanted the cheapest GA ticket)
  • Not many asked me questions about my motivations for buying. That’s important as it can answer a lot of questions to round out a sale.
  • All in all, what a bargain these NRL memberships are! I can’t wait to get out to the grounds in 2020. 
  • I’d love to have seen the Tigers, Sharks and Panthers replies too however these memberships are available in the links if anyone wants to view them. They are equally impressive too. 
  • If you’re an NRL member sign up to your club and support the game. NRL has never been in a better position and as a hardcore fan myself I am pumped to be getting back out to the grounds.

Responses:

The following are the responses from each club along with some notes.

Parramatta Eels

Thank you for your email.

That’s great to hear you are interested in becoming a member!

I highly recommend our General Admission membership as I will list below what you receive in it.

Note: if you buy a full season general admission adult pass you receive a free junior up to the age of 18.

General Admission (11 games): unreserved

Adult: $200

Concession: $190

Junior: Free with full paying adult or $100 for an extra junior

Family: $400

Members pack:

Adult:

  • Cap
  • Keyring
  • Lanyard
  • Sticker set

Junior:

  • Lanyard
  • Sticker set
  • Junior cap

As being a 2020 member, you will also receive a range of benefits such as:

  • Integrated game day public transport
  • Access to the brand-new members offers program
  • Access to Members Lounge ’47
  • Access to Members’ loyalty program, including Member Loyalty Events
  • Access to cash-back member seat resale program (Reserved Seat Members only)
  • 10% discount off selected Eels home game tickets
  • BONUS! 15% discount at the Eels Online Store
  • Priority buying window for all Eels home games
  • Priority buying window for NRL major events
  • Member Event Invitations
  • Member-first club communication

I hope this helps you understand the way our memberships work in more detail.

Notes:

  • Super fast response
  • Loaded with info on memberships and inclusions
  • Actually sounds like the best membership to sign up to as well given all the benefits. Parra fans have it good there.

New Zealand Warriors

Thank you for your e-mail and we appreciate all of your support and interest in becoming a member for the 2020 season! We are eager for the upcoming 2020 season as the boys have been training extremely hard and are all in for a great season ahead, so we’d love to have you on board during this exciting time! The following options would be your General Admission memberships for the season and I’ve included the benefits that you receive as a member-

The Interchange (general admission) Membership Options are as follows-

–              Either 5, 9 or 18-ticket General Admission passes

                Full Season –  Flexi 5 game  ($85 in total)  

                                         Flexi 9 game  ($144 in total)                                                                                              

                                         Flexi 18 game ($270 in total)                                                       

–              Can spread all games across the season or use all at once with your friends and family

–              An adult membership pack which includes a CCC member’s cap, Vodafone Warriors bumper sticker, 2020 memberships pass and lanyard

–              Access to members-only online newsletter

–              Access to the members’ clubroom

–              10% ticket discount to Vodafone Warriors regular season home games at Mt Smart

–              10% merchandise discount at our super store or online at www.warriorsstore.co.nz

–              Second-priority ticketing access to NRL Finals and State of Origin

If you are able to attend every home game at Mt Smart Stadium, I would consider the Flexi 9 option for $144 for the season. Alternatively, if you needed a bit more flexible of an option and you are not able to attend all of the home games I’d suggest the Flexi 5 option for $85. If you plan on bringing someone else along to every game with you I’d consider the Flexi 18 for $270.

Thanks again Jack and please let me know if you have any other questions and I’d be happy to help.

Notes:

  • Provided options
  • Added a link
  • Added info on membership inclusions
  • Fantastic answer as to why I should sign on as a member

St. George Illawarra Dragons

Thanks for your email and interest in becoming a Red V Member.

Membership is the highest commitment a supporter can make to their club – which we reward for your direct financial contribution. All members would receive exclusive benefits including the best value for home game tickets and away ticket offers, discounts on Dragons merchandise, exclusive access to meet the team through member events, and chances to win member experiences and prizes! You can read more about our member benefits here.

Currently, all members who sign up by the 2nd March will be included on our annual Red V Member Wall. The yearly designed wall will show the names of all members who have signed up prior to that deadline and will be displayed at all Dragons home games and selected member events. Members will also receive exclusive access to an Anzac Day ticket pre-sale next week with 20% off tickets (along with existing 20% off all Dragons home game tickets) and a pre-sale for the NRL Grand Final later in March!

For information and images regarding your membership pack, please click here.

You would have multiple options regarding a GA seat – it would depend on how many games you’d get to throughout the year. Your options would include:

Flexi 3 GA for $70: Access to 3 Dragons home games between Kogarah or Wollongong

Wollongong Pass GA for $135: Access to 6 Dragons home games at Wollongong

Kogarah Plus GA for $135: Access to 5 Dragons home games at Kogarah and 1 at the SCG for Anzac Day

Full Season GA for $240: Access to all 12 Dragons home games

Let us know if you had any further questions.

Notes:

  • Provided a very good response to my question about why I should get a membership
  • Added a link to memberships
  • Provided different options
  • All members signed up before 2/3 also had the chance to be on the REDV wall too.

Sydney Roosters

Thank you for your email. Great to hear you are interested in becoming a Member.

Our coach Trent Robinson describes our Members as the foundation of our club. The support from our Members by turning up to games and paying Membership fees plays a big role in the club’s success.

If you are interested in general admission seating, the Bronze Membership is your best choice. The Membership costs $150, which includes access to 10 home games (8x SCG, 1 Gosford, 1 North Sydney Oval), which is a significant saving in comparison to purchasing a GA ticket ($30/game pre-sale) to every home game. As a Member, you can also purchase tickets with a 10% discount at Central Coast and 30% at SCG home games so that it is also more affordable to bring family and friends with you to games.

The bronze Membership is counted as a Ticketed Membership, which includes receiving your Membership card, lanyard, keyring, stickers and fixture magnet, and a coupon so that you can collect your choice of a cap, scarf or can cooler at a home game, Members BBQ, or from the Spring St entrance at Easts Leagues.

To purchase the Bronze Membership, please visit: https://am.ticketmaster.com/roosters/bronze-membership#/

Alternatively you can call us on 1300 327 871 to purchase your Membership.

Notes:

  • Answered my question about why its good to become a member
  • Provided link to the membership
  • Provided info on what’s included in membership packs

Canberra Raiders

Thanks for your email. Please use the link below to find all our exclusive member benefits for season 2020. Due to a large influx of members this year we recommend purchasing your membership at some point today in order to ensure that you receive a membership pack.

https://www.raiders.com.au/membership/packages/full-season/bronze-general-admission/

We hope to see you as part of the Raiders family in season 2020.

Notes:

  • Provided a link to memberships

Brisbane Broncos

It is great to hear you are looking to become a member with us for the 2020 season!

With regard to your requirements, were you looking at a full season membership or possibly a 4 game membership?

A great reason to become a member with us this year is that we strongly believe 2020 will be a massive year for the boys on the field, and we think it’s not one to be missed. Aside from that though by becoming a member for 2020 you also gain access to a myriad of benefits which include; discounted home game tickets through Ticketek for family and friends, pre-sale access to NRL finals games involving us, access to discounts in our Team Store, plus access to offers from our many sponsors and partners.

By also becoming a member you have access to exclusive member content via our Member Mail email which is sent to you each week. This content also includes member only competitions that you can enter which gives you access to prizes and experiences that non-members and fans can’t get.

For more information on all of our membership packages you can head to our membership website via the link here. If you would like to discuss any of our options as well you can certainly give us a call anytime

Notes:

  • Answered the question quite well and got me excited for the season ahead.
  • Provided heaps of information and a membership link
  • Told me about membership incentives and information like competitions and merch
  • A side note on this. I bought my Broncos membership for 2020 last week and they were equally switched on to helping me out as they were to helping old mate ‘Jack’ out lol. 

North Queensland Cowboys

Hey Jake,

I have link below our Gold Star Unreserved Membership, which is our GA product.

Feel free to have a look over the inclusion and if you have any questions let me know

https://www.cowboys.com.au/membership/packages/full-season/gold-star-unreserved/

Notes:

  • Far out, I love the Cowboys and can’t wait to get up to the new stadium for the opening game but….
  • They got my fake name wrong! haha this actually made me laugh so kudos for that.

  • A few grammatical errors but who cares really about these at least they responded!

  • Didn’t tell me why it’d be great to support the team or any benefits

  • Provided a link to memberships which was useful to look over and get excited about.

  • The most glaring omission is the fact that YOU HAVE A BRAND NEW STADIUM TO TELL ME ABOUT BUT MADE NO MENTION OF IT! A key thing a fan would want to know about. 

  • Still, these things happen and no doubt they are under the pump with the brand new stadium and doing a superb job in getting everything ready for the opening game. As a proud North Queenslander supporter, I still bought a jersey this year too. Up the Cowboys!

Manly Sea Eagles

We have GA Memberships for $205 for the season. This includes all 10 Lottoland home games.

The way our GA seating works is on a first come first served basis, so you would need to secure your own seat.

With this specific pack you have the option of receiving either a cap, beanie or scarf, as well as a Member card, lanyard, sticker and keyring.

One of the best benefits is the cost. A Membership works out much cheaper than purchasing tickets game by game.

In addition to this your receive a 10% discount on merchandise, pre-sale access to different Rugby Leagues events such as NRL finals and Origin. We also hold Member only events throughout the season too, such as our Members Christmas BBQ where all players are in attendance 

That is kind of our Membership in a nutshell, I guess most importantly though it’s the best way to support the Club that you follow!

Please see the link below for additional information about the specific pack it sounds would be most suitable for you:

https://www.seaeagles.com.au/membership/packages/general-admission/the-47s-general-admission/

Another thing to note, is we also have 3 or 5 game GA Memberships if you don’t think you’ll make all 10 games.

Notes:

  • Provided extra info and insights
  • Provided link to membership
  • Told me why its good to support the club
  • Talked about the benefits
  • Told me what incentives and inclusions are in the packs

Gold Coast Titans

Thank you for reaching out to the Membership Team upon your move back home!

If you’re looking to attend home games this year at Cbus Super Stadium, having a Membership with the club is the best financial option in which to do so and you receive an exclusive Member’s cap and pack. In addition to this, if you wish to purchase additional tickets you receive a 15% Member’s discount, an invitation to exclusive member events, free public transport on game-day, a Parkwood Social Membership, and free feeder club entry, amongst other benefits.

We’d love to have you onboard for our fight in 2020 so please see below for a link to the packages:

GA Membership:

https://am.ticketmaster.com/goldcoasttitans/Packages/generaladmission#/

If you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to respond to this email or alternatively give us a call via our hotline as we’d be more than happy to help.

I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Notes:

  • Provided membership link
  • Answered question about the cheapest option
  • Told me why it’s good to be a member

South Sydney

Thank you for contacting the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

I have attached the link with details of the General Admission Member Pack https://membership.rabbitohs.com.au/general-admission/.

This Membership is a Full Season Member Pass, meaning that you will have access to all Rabbitohs NSW Home Games Plus Reciprocal Away Games and pick your seat in our General Admission Seating each Match. 

-You will receive a Cap/Scarf (Member’s Choice Item)

-Membership Card

-Bumper Sticker

-Fixture Magnet

-Lanyard

-$20 online merchandise voucher

-10% off Rabbitohs Merch

-Rabbitohs Rewards Pass

-Exclusive Sponsor Offers

-Entry to the 2020 Member’s Tipping Competition

-Access to P&O Member’s Deck at post-match functions

-Choose from a selection of players on your Member card

Scroll through the link to view these items visually.

If you don’t think you are going to be present at all the Home Games, we do have the option of purchasing a Flexi 3 or 5 game Membership which will grant you access to either 3 or 5 Home Games depending on what suits you best.

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Notes:

  • Provided merch info and inclusions in the membership pack
  • Provided link to the memberships
  • Didn’t tell me why I should support the team

Canterbury

Thank you for contracting the Bulldogs Membership Team.

That’s good to hear mate  that you are interested in becoming a Bulldogs Membership for the 2020 season.

We are only a couple of days out from our first game of the season and the Club and teams need you and your support for the 2020 season.

Our cheapest General Admission membership is the Blue Zone membership for $145.

The following link contains all the information regarding the Blue zone membership: https://www.bulldogs.com.au/membership/packages/general-admission/blue-zone/

Could you please give me a day and time that suits you best so I can give you a call to renew your membership for 2020?

If you have any questions please feel free to give us a call back on 1300 769 164 or simply respond to this email.

Notes:

  • Provided a membership link
  • Provided a number to call
  • Provided the cheapest option
  • Answered question about membership
  • Asked to follow up with me with a call

Melbourne Storm 

Thank you for your email

Below is a link to our membership packages

https://www.melbournestorm.com.au/membership/packages/

What is your best contact number to call you on regarding this

Looking forward to hearing back from you

Notes:

  • Asked to call me to follow up which was good to see. A genuine call gets a higher chance of a sale every time.
  • Linked in info on membership info
  • Didn’t answer the question about why I should become a member of the Storm but would likely do that over phone

Newcastle Knights

He is a link to our membership website https://knightshub.com.au/membership/, here you will be able to browse the different memberships we have on offer and choose what best suits you. Each of our membership offers discounts on merchandise and ticketing on top of the membership pack that you will receive.

The greatest part about becoming a member is showing your support and becoming a part of a club you feel passionate about.

Please let me know if I can help you with anything further.

Kind regards,

Notes:

  • Answered the question quite well here
  • Provided links and info

Cronulla

  • No response to the initial email
  • No response to follow up email

Penrith

  • No response to the initial email
  • No response to follow up email

Wests Tigers

  • No response to the initial email
  • No response to follow up email

A note on Cronulla, Penrith and Wests Tigers. Even if these three caught on that this wasn’t a real member inquiry the fact that the vast majority are all cut and paste automatic reply emails means it doesn’t take much effort to just reply. The emails have no doubt fallen into the spam, opened and closed or just forgotten about folder. Even after I bothered to follow up with another email. However, whatever the case if you’re a fan of these clubs and myself having done their games days, I’d still 100% sign up for a membership of these clubs as they’re all doing exceptional things in the community and on game days. Plus….suburban grounds, gotta love that!

 

THE 2019 FAN ENGAGEMENT/ FAN EXPERIENCE 100-1 RECAP

Hello and welcome to my annual 100-1 fan engagement/experience year in review where I take a look back on the creative, innovative, exciting and tailored strategies from teams, venues, sports marketing agencies and sponsors which in my opinion greatly captivated fans across the globe in 2019.

There is a customary heavy focus on Australia and New Zealand as I am based here and please do keep in mind that this is a very subjective list based on my own personal experiences at games, what I saw from colleagues around the globe and what fans have suggested. There will, of course, be ideas and activations that I have missed so please feel free to tag them and add to the discussion here or on social. 

Some of the key areas of focus included:

  • Technology innovations from augmented reality to smart jerseys.
  • F&B incentives were again a trending area with more venues offering early bird offers, family-friendly deals, kids combo meal deals as well as catering for dietary needs and craft beer. 
  • Innovative social seating experiences such as pools, couches, and beaches in venues to offer fans unique fan experiences that can’t be had at home.
  • Inclusive approaches that offer better access and representation to fans with diverse needs to enjoy the same fan experiences as every other fan both in the community and on game day.
  • Harnessing the power of fan-generated content. Find out what skills your fans have by listening to them and then utilize these skills. Fellow fans love this while the fan feels a genuine sense of appreciation that they’re being rewarded for their contribution. I’m a big fan of this area.
  • Sustainable environmental approaches as fans care about their local communities and the environment around the team and society.
  • More political and social justice concerns from fans and teams that put inclusion and communities first.
  • Seamless, tech-driven, fan-friendly venues.

When it comes to fan engagement strategies and improving the fan experience there are few thoughts that I’ll leave you with before starting the 100-1 recap:

Thinking like kids: We must never forget to think like fans, families and in particular junior fans. The ability to continually put ourselves in the shoes of kids and get on their level as well as remember the importance and feeling of those first moments of fandom that we had as kids when we were enthralled and excited by our favourite team or player.

Listening and responding with authenticity: Constantly listening to fans is vital but it is not enough. Responding with empathy and authenticity goes such a long way in driving lifetime fan loyalty.

Keeping it simple: The greatest fan engagement is often the simplest stuff. While I’m constantly road testing the latest tech on my game day travels because I’m a huge fan of the way technology is enhancing our game days I do believe that stripping it all back to the purest and most honest form of fan engagement ends up having the most significant impact on fans. There are a number of outstanding examples of this below.

Inclusion: More than ever thinking about fans as people and not customers and looking at what we can do to better listen and engage them for the benefit of all. 

Personalisation: Never underestimate what it means to a fan to know that you have put them first by directly targeting them.

I trust that this educational summary provides you with some basis for thinking about how you can both improve your fan experience and better engage your fans on both a grassroots or global level while at the same time marvelling at the creativity on show here.

Finally, a huge round of applause to all of the hard-working, creative and talented front office team and venue crews, sports agencies, sponsors and other stakeholders out there who continually create these outstanding experiences for fans across the globe each year. 

If you would like to peruse the previous 100-1 annual summaries then you can find them here:

2018

2017

2016

2015

100. Craft beer and sports team and venue partnerships continued to pour in this year with the establishment of new partnerships with local breweries and venues in an effort to bring fans, local businesses, and the community closer together by offering local and better quality beer options on game days. 

I’ve written a fair bit about this area with my articles well worth a read to understand what teams, venues, and craft breweries are getting out of these partnerships. More info here.

Some of the craft beer and some of the other interesting beer developments from Australia and overseas included:

  • Melbourne Storm and Brick Lane Brewing
  • South Sydney Rabbitohs and Young Henry’s
  • Brisbane Bullets and Newstead Brewing Co
  • Melbourne Demons and Brewanity
  • Port Adelaide and Pirate Life Brewing Co
  • Newcastle Jets and Murray’s Brewing Co

99. Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) post-game kick to kick.  

98. NBL Brisbane Bullets post-game on-court autograph session.

97. @MijnVitesse  launched a pay per month ticketing model.

96. Wimbledon offering vegan strawberries and cream for the first time. A theme emerging of inclusive F&B offerings around the global grounds. 

95. The hilarious New Zealand Warriors (NRL) ‘Bush Shirt’ that took social by storm and will be debuted in the 2020 season. A clever idea to tap into the random side of fans and a nation’s culture. 

 

94. Weetbix and BBL/WBBL personalized backyard cricket bats.

93. Coventry City music themed ‘Specials’ kit for Kick It Out campaign round. Also special mention to West Ham United and their collab with Iron Maiden. Will there be more of these music/team kit collabs?

92. The Boundary Social at The Gabba, Brisbane.

91. F&B prices at Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII.

90. Chicago Blackhawks NHL chopping board giveaway to fans.

89. NY Mets Seinfeld Night and bobblehead giveaway.

88. Australian Women’s Cricket team trading cards. It’s been so good to see the rise of more women’s sport athletes being featured on cricket trading cards for fans of all ages to collect. Also Super Netball, WBBL and AFLW as well. 

87. Brisbane Lions (AFL) umpired youth games in the community. You should also check out the review I wrote of the Brisbane Lions and Gabba’s Verandah fan experience. 

86. Win an Adelaide Giants (ABL) contract for a day.

85. Chief Beer Officer at the LA Rams.

84. Queens Park Rangers crest collection for new members.

83. AFLX at Marvel Stadium. Light up goal posts, free trading cards and loads of kids activities. Another impressive event for 2019 at the venue. A lot of AFLX got blasted by the media and fans who weren’t the target market.

82. Kensington Oval beach cricket party atmosphere complete with jet ski chairs.

81. Melbourne Storm (NRL) Street Crew.

80. Commemorative yesteryear tickets from Collingwood AFLW.

79. Adelaide Crows (AFL) and Borussia Dortmund replying to fans with personalised kit wallpapers.

78. AGF Children’s Day drawings.

77. AIK Fotboll selling pre-signed jerseys for fans.

76Manchester United and Marriot launched the ‘Seat of Dreams’ at Old Trafford. 

75. New Zealand Warriors (NRL) and Auckland Blues (Super Rugby) ‘Codes of Auckland’ partnership and the Sydney Kings (NBL) and Sydney FC (A-League) partnership.

74. At Pollock FC in Scotland a big football fan – a dog called ‘Yardley’ – is allowed to watch games from the stands at Newlandsfield Park. Now that’s inclusion. Also, #74 just a bit of a laugh in the list. Also, lets put the Dallas Cowboys cat here too. That was very responsive from the AT&T Stadium and team to add the cat to the lineup. 

73. Reuseable cups from Rylands FC and free hot drinks to those who bring their own reusable cup along on match days.

72. @OU_Football launched a website with content and profiles of each signee. They made each of them their own logo and announced the athletes on the site.

71. This lovely story from the UT Vols.

70. Cousin Eddie hat giveaway from M State. One of the best random giveaways of the year.

69. This barbershop and barbershop singing girls at the V8 Supercars at Sandown Raceway in Victoria.

68. New Jersey Devils (NHL) had kids draw pictures of their favourite players and then put them up on the screen.

67. Seattle Sounders (MLS) calling out racism and fascism and in the process showing how inclusive they are to their community. 

66. Coventry City FC’s family zone but in particular their ‘lucky dip’ idea which I thought was simple and effective.

65. The Lawn at the MCG and in particular the caricature part of this. A simple and effective idea for hospitality guests and for kids in a fan zone. Here’s also a review I review of The Lawn fan experience that I wrote for Digital Sports Labs. 

64. Brisbane Roar (A-League) CEO shouting fans drinks at away games.

63. Montrose FC got fans together to road test the pies for the venue. Possibly the best fan engagement all year for food lovers.

62. Reading Fightin Phils had a gender reveal fireworks night.

61. The Holden mini-trucks race circuit at the State of Origin match at Optus Stadium in Perth, Western Australia.

60. Family-Friendly Sunday’s at the SCG. Discounted F&B prices for fans. What other venues are doing similar things?

59. Gender-Neutral toilets at Whitten Oval for the Western Bulldogs AFLW match. A very inclusive way for all fans to be made to feel welcome on game days.

58. Freebies for kids at Marvel Stadium over summer 2019/20 BBL/WBBL matches. 

57. This classy note from Manchester City to fans.

56. Various LA Dodgers themed nights.

55. DB Cooper CSI themed night at the Portland Pickles.

54. Pink Beer for the Pink Test at the SCG.

53. The Pool and Boundary Beach Club at Optus Stadium, Perth, Western Australia.

52. New Zealand All Blacks ‘Black Laundry’. “Running until the start of November, and open ahead of every All Blacks match, Steinlager wants to inspire Kiwis to show their true colours by sacrificing an item of clothing and dying it black  – with one Auckland woman already having dyed her wedding dress.”

51. Fans First free shipping. Savannah Bananas removed merch shipping fees.

50. San Francisco 49er’s ‘All You Can Eat’ tickets. 

49. State of Origin Light Show at Optus Stadium, Perth.

48. The Queensland Maroons visited the Brisbane Police Watch House.

47. Parramatta Eels (NRL) moving statue at Bankwest Stadium. Check out Bankwest Stadium too. I wrote a fan experience review for Aus Leisure Mag which can be found here.

46. This stubby cooler sweater from Cricket Australia as a hospitality piece of merch. Had to include something merchandise related and this was one of the best pieces I picked up this year. More on Brisbane’s The Gabba and Cricket Australia fan experience can be found here.

45. Sydney Roosters (NRL) members names on the LED ribbon at the SCG. Nice way to made to be feel welcome.

44. Brisbane Broncos (NRL) hackathon. What other teams did these well in 2019?

43. Peterborough PUFC young fans guard of honor.

Great to see so many first time fans at the game today – the looks on their faces when they see the players is priceless! Big ‘fans for the future’ initiative as alluded to by @JasonDavidNeale earlier is coming soon to get these back and ultimately season ticket holders.#pufc pic.twitter.com/KyuVypQRew

— Jake Baxter (@Jake__Baxter) February 2, 2019


42. These incredible kit reveal videos from Arsenal (Adidas) and Chelsea (Nike).

41. Free iconic Tayla Harris kick AFLW badges handed out at AFLW games.

40. Eredivisie Toy Toss. 

39. Manchester City became the first sports club to launch with YouTube Kids.

38. Royal Antwerp FC launched a special section for their vision impaired fans.

37. The @ThunderbirdsAHL‘s celebrated the 30th anniversary of the animated comedy series “The Simpsons.” with these Ice-O-Topes jerseys.

36. Kombucha coming into F&B offerings more and more like at Seattle Seahawks for foodies as healthier stadium concession products gain deeper traction with fans. 

35. Iranian women were allowed to attend a national team game for the first time in 40 years.

34. Baltimore Ravens Pop Up Shop idea.

33. LinkedIn sponsors Grimsby Town FC to help community score jobs. They launched the ‘LinkedIn Lounge’ – a permanent matchday fixture throughout the season, where match goers will be able to see current vacancies in the area, along with details of how to apply.

32. Huggity’s scrum machine challenge. 

31. For the Raptors 25th-anniversary, @PizzaPizzaLtd created an interactive GameBox to offer a tabletop gaming experience. 

30. Tottenham Hotspur’s fast pour beers at the new venue in London. Tech has been around for a while but it seemed to take off this year with the launch of the new stadium. 

29. Baltimore Ravens debut mixed reality Raven in venue.

28. NBA smart jerseys.

27. PSV helps a young fan enjoy a matchday experience like no other.

26. Chelsea FC unveiled a new ‘shirt holders’ Nike kit designed by fans.

25. Penn State Football’s creative poster that transforms into a helmet.

24. Hertha BSC ticket bot.

23. Premier League smart shirt.

22. FC Midtjylland hired a bagpipes player to greet Rangers fans.

21. FC Union Berlin made these posters up for their recently deceased fans. 

20. Feyenoord and Opel offer each away game a clubcar for four fans to travel to away games. 

19. Everton FC. Treats on seats for first time under 11 Season Ticket members to welcome them to Goodison Park for 2019/20.

18. Paris Saint-Germain partnered with Deliveroo for in-seat ordering at Parc des Princes.

17. Swindon Town FC Junior Takeover Day. Also another good example of this below from Brentford FC.

16. Brilliant work from Watford FC for those fans wanting to know costs, first time attendance and every detail for the match. This makes it so easy for fans to better understand the game day.

15. Andres Iniesta’s Farewell Jersey idea from beIN Sports.

14. VR work from Bayern Munich.

13. These ushers at Fiserv Forum for the Bucks game. 

12. GWS (AFL) ahead of the 2019 AFL Grand Final.

11. Dallas Cowboys/AT&T Stadium AR ‘Pose With The Pro’s’ activation. Also another fine example from Wolverhampton Wanderers too below.

10. Bat flips at the BBL/WBBL.

9. Swindon Town FC taking fans to their seats on their first game days.

8. DC United getting the local music community involved in game days.

7. FC Utrecht galvanising fans to donate their warm clothes to their supporters who live below the poverty line.

6. Charlotte Checkers having personalised notes on fans seats.

5. The Washington Capitals announcing their official team dog of the team. 

4. The warm welcoming work from Brentford FC’s team to create personalised welcome emails to fans coming to Griffin Park for the first time. A delightful way to ensure fans feel welcome and have all the information they need to be able to get the most out of their first experience. 

3. The work of teams like Melbourne Rebels (Super Rugby), Penrith Panthers (NRL) and Newcastle Knights (NRL) listening to their fans to lower the prices on their jerseys to $99 from the original costs of upwards of $170. 

 

2. The amazing work the Gold Coast Titans (NRL) and other organisations did to create a rugby league physical disability competition so that these young players could play the game they love. Watch Leagueability on ABC here. “A heart-warming, inspirational story about a bunch of young blokes who live for the game but have never been allowed to play and start a physical disability rugby league competition in regional Australia.”

1. AS Roma’s new recruits and missing persons campaign. There are just no words for how brilliant this was. 

So there you have it for 2019.

A pretty impressive list of fan engagement strategies and fan experience insights from across the globe highlighting the outstanding work being done to entertain and delight fans in various parts of the world.

100 (actually there’s well over that as I’ve combined a few here and there) truly exceptional strategies but what have I missed? What was happening for you as a fan in your neck of the woods?

Thanks also to my colleagues and the people I look up to in the industry and this space such as but not limited to:

Be sure to also scroll back through the 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015 countdowns too to see what’s been happening over the past few years (found at the top of this post).

Let me know at @MrBlairHughes on Twitter or on LinkedIn.

Thanks and have a great holiday break.

AUS LEISURE MAG: The Best In The West: Bankwest Stadium Parramatta Eels NRL Fan Experience Review

The game-day fan experience continues to rapidly evolve on a daily basis with global venues going all out for sports fans through enhancements to areas such as hospitality, seating, catering, technology and accessibility all in an effort to create better fan-friendly destinations and unforgettable experiences as well as further drive new revenue opportunities.

Recent fan experience developments to venues have for instance seen the addition of a craft beer microbrewery at Tottenham Hotspur’s dazzling new stadium in London while Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles focused on a foodies experience for LAFC fans by including concession items from some of the best local chefs and restaurants in LA. Meanwhile, under construction venues such as Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas will feature a retractable roof as part of their climate-controllable venue while Hungary’s new Puskás Arena in Budapest will include a running track perched above the stands with panoramic views over the city. These impressive modern stadium designs are just a few features which highlight that it’s truly never been a more exciting time to be a sports fan as venues around the world constantly seek to improve the fan experience for spectators to get them off the couch and into venues.

Another venue putting fans and the fan experience front and centre on game day through a raft of impressive features is Australia’s latest major venue, Parramatta’s spectacular Bankwest Stadium situated on the banks of the Parramatta River in Western Sydney. In my latest fan experience review here for AUS Leisure I take a look at the impressive NSW Government funded Bankwest Stadium from a recent Parramatta Eels NRL match here to highlight both how they are achieving best practice fan experience and the lessons that other venues can learn to improve and enhance their own venue fan experiences.

Transport

The fan journey often begins with either the ticket buying experience or with transport to the game and as I began my journey to the venue via a train from Sydney’s Central Station it was instantly impressive to see integrated ticketing in effect with free public transport included as part of every match day ticket. The venue is well serviced by multiple public transport options such as trains, ferries and buses with my train only taking 25 minutes to arrive into the Parramatta Transport Interchange in the Parramatta CBD. It was then just a short walk to the ground through the bustling Church Street precinct that was heavily decorated in Parramatta Eels colours. Navigating the route to a venue can also sometimes be difficult however the addition of bright pink way-finding signage and helpful Transport for NSW support staff provided extra assistance for fans to easily locate the stadium. It was good to see that bike parking racks are also located just out the front of the gates highlighting that there’s multiple ways to access the venue on game days.

Atmosphere

After a seamless entry through the ticket gates, a thorough bag search and an unexpected but very welcome positive greeting from a jovial security guard, I made my way into the ground and was instantly blown away by the incredible views and close proximity that every seat seems to have of the field of play. As kick off approached and the venue was packed with loud and vocal NRL fans, the deafening roars and cheers elevated the noise to an unprecedented atmosphere in an Australian venue. It felt like a wall of sound had been created from the 30,000 fans packed in here so close to the immaculate turf which looked like lush emerald velvet. These thoughts were echoed by Parramatta Eels tragic and Ladies Who League founder Mary Konstantopoulos who stated to me at the match The fan experience is exceptional; you are so close to the action and the roar of the crowd sends chills down your spine. Personally though I also love how the history of the Eels is still reflected in the stadium through the Ray Price Statue and the stands named after Eels legends – it’s a nod to the past whilst providing plenty of hope for the future.”.

Architecture

Venue architect Populous, operators VenuesLive and construction company LendLease have all worked tremendously together to create an outstanding venue that has a variety of clever features such as large open dwell spaces for fans to navigate the concourses and also mingle next to colourful decor that’s still in view of the field. Walking around the venue was easy due to the clear way-finding signs and there is a good use of space inside the concourses with stroller bays for parents to easily park their prams in a secure area under the stands. Outside the stadium there is a kids playground area, basketball court and a street workout gym which all represented a smart use of venue space as well as ensuring that the local community has access to these features whenever they wish. While the venue is very much accessible for all needs, another inclusive approach has been to include unisex toilets which is just another way venues are thinking about looking after all of their spectators and making sure they feel valued on game day.

Seating

Bankwest Stadium CEO Daryl Kerry stated that “This is a stadium that was designed and built for the fans with the event experience front of mind and it’s clear that one of the many highlights of the rectangular seating design of the venue is that every spectator feels so close to the action on the field that they can almost reach out and grab the turf from their seats. It became apparent pretty quickly as I criss-crossed my way around the venue that there’s not a bad seat in the house with the views of the field simply breathtaking no matter where you are seated. The high back seats are also spacious and comfortable while the seat rake means you’re pretty much on top of the action and with the atmosphere pumping throughout the day you feel as though you’re much more apart of the spectacle than in other grounds.  

F&B

Upon checking out the concession outlets and kiosks inside the venue, it was evident that Bankwest Stadium has listened to sports fans as there are a host of clever catering additions and incentives here that already have fans singing the venue’s praises. For instance, game day essentials like sauce and beer trays are free, Bankwest cardholders get 10% off concession items while fan first pricing is in effect with seven key food items like pies and hot chips available for under $5. Moreover, the cost of beer here is closest to the cheapest in any Australian sporting venue starting at $6.50 and even includes craft options such as Furphy and Little Creatures brews which will appease beer drinkers

It was positive to see a focus on sustainability to reduce waste with biodegradable cutlery available instead of plastic and that the venue had researched and identified the changing consumer habits and needs of fans with both quality vegan and gluten free food options all available for fans to purchase. As stadium F&B options continue to improve globally for fans it was exciting to see the focus on flavours that reflected the diversity of the local Western Sydney community as all fans tastes have been catered for through the addition of the ‘High Street’ speciality concession outlets that featured everything from Chinese and BBQ meals to seafood and health food dishes which all looked substantial and delicious when I surveyed the outlets before kick off.

Technology

From the crisp and vocal sound coming through the new PA system to the super fast free Wi-Fi, Bankwest Stadium utilises an impressive array of modern technology that’s both interactive and immersive for fans to experience.

The first things to notice when entering the grandstands is how much clearer the sound is from the speakers while the eye-catching and colourful LED ribbons and HD screens create a thrilling tribal atmosphere as they flash out team hype reels and sponsor content across the stands. Sports business leaders TLA Australia and Game Changer MVP have been responsible for revolutionising the match day experience at BankWest Stadium through the in-game fan engagement and entertainment with TLA Australia Head of Events and Consultancy, James Ward, saying “Through our collaboration with Game Changer MVP we are combining global expertise with local knowledge and experience to deliver some amazing content for fans at Bankwest Stadium’.

Across the day I used close to 5GB of data with ease on the stadium network with no drop outs or re-sign while the Parramatta’s screen content and entertainment was electrifying and had the fans in the stands pumped up throughout the match. The Sport LED lighting is also going to be impressive to see here as the lights can be turned on and off with ease for synchronised light and sound shows.

Fan Engagement

With just three games in for the venue, hirers are still finding their feet with how to make use of the space however the Parramatta Eels put on a first class display for fan engagement by providing activities for fans like a photo booth, face painting and even a living statue artist dressed in Eels colours which was a new one to the fan engagement photo opportunity ideas book. The Eels members bar was also a highlight of the venue where Blue and Gold Army Eels members were able to mingle together in their own dedicated fan space that was decorated in Parra livery.

Hospitality

Having canvassed the concourse and general seating areas, I made my way around to the Western Stand to inspect the corporate hospitality facilities of which on first look seemed there appeared to be an abundance of diverse premium options for guests. While there are indeed plenty of quality lounges, suites and clubs providing both private and premium experiences for networking and dining with gourmet F&B and spectacular views right on top of the field, the jewel in the hospitality crown at Bankwest Stadium is the exclusive and exciting ‘Field Club’. This ‘money cant buy experience’ located at the edge of the playing field allows guests to see the players warming up before they walk through the Field Club and onto the ground which combined with the outstanding views brings patrons so incredibly close to the action like never before.

From the diversity in F&B and the smart architectural design to the unique hospitality and the immersive tech, Bankwest Stadium is a spectacular venue that sets a very high bar for the sports fan experience. This is a world class fan first venue and all stakeholders from the NSW Government down should be applauded for the attention to detail that has gone into its creation as well as the focus on going the extra mile for fans with all the little touches. A Bankwest Stadium game day is an essential bucket list visit for any sports fan and one can only hope that Australian venues continue to put fans and improvements to the fan experience front of mind and look to this venue when creating new event spaces.

BIO:

Blair Hughes is an award winning, globally respected fan engagement specialist who helps clients in the sports, music and craft beer industries grow their fan bases, improve fan experiences and create new business and revenue opportunities. You can follow him on Twitter at @MrBlairHughes or at

www.MrBlairHughes.com.

2018 NRL Team By Team Fan Engagement Review

The 2018 NRL season has come and gone faster than a $2.50 NRL match day chiko roll at ANZ Stadium but what a year it has been for rugby league fans and members who have been well looked after and rewarded by their respective teams.

Whether it be venue fan first pricing offers for members on food and beverages, a focus on emerging technologies or the inclusive approach of introducing a female mascot, 2018 has seen an outstanding array of quality fan engagement initiatives for NRL fans. With the main decider taking place on Sunday, this recap featuring 250+ images shines a light on some of the 200+creative and compelling strategies, ideas and incentives that NRL club members and league fans were rewarded with over the course of the season by teams, venues and sponsors.

Having compiled this summary it is evident that some of the trends within the global fan engagement space have worked their way into the NRL and down to club level such as:

  • Fan first pricing at venues on F&B
  • Craft beer partnerships
  • Mini-documentaries 
  • Podcasting
  • Unique venue sponsor social seating spaces
  • Female mascots
  • Venue art works
  • Incorporation of Facebook Live for team TV shows
  • Game day light and sound shows 
  • Fan/member councils

While the latest and greatest in technology is often seen as a major focus within fan engagement, it is important to note that the types of fan engagement that are consistently highly regarded and well received by fans are the simple and authentic things which go such a long way in building that lifelong loyalty to the club as put simply, fan engagement can never be manufactured.

From a free flag and a surprise and delight gift under a members seat to guards of honour, members of the week or just having a player call a fan personally, there are so many simple, cost effective and creative ideas here which the NRL clubs have implemented for their fans this year. The RT’s and fan comments on social around these fan engagement activations and initiatives speak for themselves as NRL members and fans are positive about the game and about what their club is doing for them.

The summary below is by no means the definitive list of every NRL clubs’ fan engagement ideas or strategies however it certainly touches on a vast array of ideas from the tried and tested, quirky and interesting to some really creative, effective and exciting developments in fan engagement.

Thanks to the NRL fans who helped with suggestions for this article as well as the club and venue reps who provided me with some more information for activations and ideas that I wasn’t aware of.

Did you see something else out there that should be included too? Join the conversation on Twitter here or comment below.

I hope you enjoy this read fellow NRL fans and if you do enjoy this then feel free to read my monthly fan engagement publication FANS HQ or continue reading my blog which features close to 200 diverse global game day fan experience reviews along with many of my other published writing efforts.

Ok, lets get started…..

BRISBANE BRONCOS

  • The Paddock Club outside set up at Suncorp Stadium with food trucks, live bands and more

Further reading: Broncos game day review in FANS HQ #5

CANBERRA RAIDERS

  • Unveiling of the Canberra Raiders new female mascot Velda the Valkyrie and Valkyrie brand
  • Behind The Limelight Podcast
  • Dance School Competition for young fans to dance on game days at GIO Stadium
  • Viking clap continued going from strength to strength in 2018
  • Members Appreciation Round thanking fans for reaching 20,000 members for the first time in the clubs history
  • Lucky door prizes for members in the West Members lounge
  • Autograph Alley – 10 Junior Members invited to meet the team pre-game
  • Coin Toss 
  • Spin and Win half time activation where one fan won 50K this season
  • Warm-Up to watch the team warm-up
  • 40 Members lined up in the tunnel as the team ran out during the Viking clap and when the team took to the field after half time
  • 17 lucky members got a signed football from a player at full-time
  • Members could feature on a bottle of sponsor Canberra Milk’s choc mint bottles plus collect the player ones as well
  • ‘The Forever Green’ match that sees 60 old boys come back to the club for a guard of honour and to mingle with fans

CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS

  • Bulldogs $5 Fan Club ticket offer that let 2 adults and 2 kids in for $5 during one of the final rounds
  • Ticketing incentives like member’s being allowed to bring two mates along for free to experience a Bulldogs game
  • Coach’s Game Plan checklist
  • Bulldogs Family Zone including player post, blue member’s carpet, rides and inflatables
  • Fans First Initiatives at ANZ Stadium on F&B, ticket prices, free transport
  • Giveaways that included Metro thunder sticks, Justice league bars, chupa chups and chocolate
  • KIA Car VR driving experience, KIA Inflatable goal posts, KIA sideline experience
  • Kindi Farm (Petting Zoo)
  • McDonalds face painting
  • Roaming balloonist
  • Dream street Dance clinic
  • Pre-game Sapphires cheerleaders performances
  • Player farewell cards at Member Appreciation Round
  • 18 jersey presentation
  • Match ball delivered by a member
  • Pre-game jersey reveal
  • KIA Car giveaway at HALF-TIME
  • Members guard of honour
  • Members given the opportunity to watch team warm up on field
  • Players fathers guard of honour
  • Members guard of honour
  • Interview a Bulldog from young fans
  • First Year Members Function
  • #BeBrave.…this was outstanding from the club and this fan
  • Players like Aiden Tolman wishing fans happy birthdays
  • Member’s free pie and water offers on game day
  • Mystery packs for kids
  • ‘We Win, You Win’ sponsor deals
  • Simple to read and understand maps and game day guides for fans to get the most out of the day

Further reading: Bulldogs game day review from FANS HQ #7

CRONULLA-SUTHERLAND SHARKS

  • Thank You to Emergency Services workers with free entry for these community legends
  • The Ultimate Upgrade Experience seating area 
  •  venue art work of this fierce shark at Allianz Stadium during the finals
  • Sharks TV Facebook Live show
  • Ticketing incentives- Bring a mate for $15
  • Members and fans invited onto the field after a win to join the players in singing the team song
  • Collectable pins for 2018 members
  • Trivia Night
  • F&B game day combos
  • Fan of the Week

Further reading: Sharks game day review from FANS HQ #8

GOLD COAST TITANS

  • Use of NightLife’s CrowdDJ platform to enable fans to select the game day playlist
  • Fans guard of honour
  • Free caps when fans buy a round of drinks
  • Player social takeovers
  • Free signed Deadly Choices jerseys from Preston Campbell when fans signed up for a health check
  • NAIDOC Event
  • F&B ticketing incentives
  • Two For One So Bring Mum ticketing deal for Women In League round
  • Holiday Clinics
  • Titans Talent Time

MANLY-WARRINGAH SEA-EAGLES

  • ‘Member of the month
  • Ticketing incentives such as two for one general admission
  • Sit in the ute on the hill and watch the game
  • Bird Gang match day helpers
  • SeaEagles Member Council
  • Beer & Pie F&B combo deals
  • Inflatables and kids activities
  • ’18th Man for NZ’
  • Thank you sign upon exiting is a nice touch as fans exit the venue
  • Guard of Honour for NRL players by fans with a female only fans for the Women In League round
  • 2018 Member of the Year
  • Members baby race
  • Surprise and Delight’ Member seat visits
  • $3 Mrs Mac’s Pie Vouchers for the first 300 fans to take advantage of at the Member Appreciation Round game
  • ‘Member Lawn’ area on season launch day where members were given direct access to the stars of the club
  • ‘Legend Of The Week’
  • Member Experiences
  • Post match laps of honour
  • Also pretty much the only club I’ve seen who consistently asked for fan feedback after every round on the match day experience in an effort to continually improve the game day for fans. Other teams did end of season surveys however it was just good to see this being a visible focus from the Sea-Eagles week in week out this year.

Further reading: Sea Eagles game day review from FANS HQ #3

MELBOURNE STORM

  • Projections on the AAMI Park roof and ‘Stadium Black Out’ with an electrifying pre-game featuring light shows, Billy & Hoffy tribute packages and roof projections
  • ‘Storm Man’, roving ‘Blimp Cam’ and ‘Oblivious Cam’ screen content fun
  • Colourful fan zone with VR activities and football skills drills
  • Free skills clinics
  • Ticketing incentives such as $3 tickets for first 300 fans for Billy Slater’s 300th game, bring the kids for free and Tight-arse Tuesday where fans got 50% tickets
  • Brick Lane craft beer partnership…not a bad drop at all and available in Edwin’s Cafe under the ground pre-game
  • Free TRY signs for fans
  • Nova Casanovas and NOVA DJs
  • Live pre-game concerts hosted by Molly Meldrum
  • Big Purple Splash with celebrities and the CEO dunked into purple water in the middle of AAMI Park
  • Multicultural Festival with food trucks
  • Cheerleader clinic for young fans
  • Open training sessions for fans young and old. 
  • Player meet and greets
  • ‘Kick on the Field’ at AAMI Park after the game
  • Billy’s Buddies membership for kids. One of the best kids memberships in the NRL
  • Half-time activations like a random schnitzel eating comp in partnership with fast food company Schnitz

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS

  • Inner sanctum pre-game on-field experiences
  • Inflatables and kids activities inside and out of McDonald Jones Stadium
  • Member’s entry line
  • Great family friendly activities at home games for the kids like face painting, balloons, petting zoos and jumping castles.
  • The Knights put a call out for fans to send their photos for Members Appreciation Round and a bunch were placed in the tunnel for the team to see during training and game day. Thanks to Knights member for this information and some of the pics below 
  • ‘Surprise and Delight’ for fans with game day giveaways and surprises
  • NIB Fortress social space
  • Free pins and posters for fans
  • Female fans names on back of players kits during Women In League round
  • Kalyn Ponga going out of his way for this young fan
  • The ‘Kick For a Car’ comp which saw this fan win the car after a cracking 40m kick. 

Further reading: Knights game day review from FANS HQ #7

NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS

  • Choose your own ticket price for the final home game. Tickets started at $5 but fans could pay whatever they wanted to
  • Vodafone and Mt Smart match day App. Some good fan experience ideas here.
  • Half time activation that was linked to an awareness campaign against drinking and driving. Two teams of fans competed on a relay obstacle race but with alcohol goggles on
  • Creation of only 100 exclusive ‘Mannering 300’ tees that fans could only buy during the game. These proved so successful that the fans asked for more quantity and the club agreed to doing pre-orders
  • Operation ‘Bring your banners for Manners which saw the club ask the fans to bring along their personalised banners. Thanks to @LGruffat for some tips here.
  • All Girls Football Clinic
  • Season ticket reductions. The Warriors announced that all 2019 reserved seat full season memberships have been reduced to just $199 in an effort to sell out every game in 2019. A huge win for fans this year.
  • They held the ‘Great Charity Day’ where fans raised tens of thousands of dollars
  • Be The Band music comp launched to find the house band at Mt Smart Stadium game days
  • They play other NRL games in the ground before the main game on the big screen
  • Quality kids membership packs
  • Mannering art work around the venue
  • Womens NRLW trial match and fan engagement
  • Member’s Appreciation Round
  • The creative and cheeky digital work on social from the Warriors digital team
  • There is also a fantastic fan experience review of the NZ Warriors here from Fan Striker

NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS


 

PARRAMATTA EELS

  • Eels Member’s Council
  • Eels Fan Experience game day helpers team
  • Fans First Initiatives at ANZ Stadium on F&B, ticket prices, free transport
  • Member’s Lounge 47 with live entertainment, complimentary finger food & player appearances
  • Member Appreciation Round with FREE Rd 25 Flag Saturday Flag for the first 2000 fans
  • Members of the Month
  • 100% Attendance Winners joined the clubs 40 year + Members in the Guard of Honour
  • The Eels hid special giveaways and thank you plaques to fans in between seats at ANZ Stadium
  • Their ‘Game Day Guide’ is one of the best in the NRL and clearly shows fans the map of the venue as well as whats going on around the ground
  • Super Flag Saturday’s where the first 2000 fans received a flag on entry for Saturday games

PENRITH PANTHERS

  • Member’s pricing on F&B with the cheapest game day beer in Australia at $5.50
  • The Stand Up! Flags Up! campaign. The club’s call to arms where fans were encouraged to make their own Panthers flag, bring one from home or buy one from the Panther Shop. The main thing was to get involved and it worked incredibly well. Here’s some vision of when I attended in round one.

  • Panthers Local Hero recognized the local legends in the Panthers community
  • Player Playlist Takeover
  • ‘Play Like a Panther’ Clinic
  • Josh Mansour player resigning announcement played on the big screen at a home game in May
  •  venue art work featuring this mean looking Panther during the finals game at Allianz Stadium
  • $10 away game Panthers Bus to take fans to other matches around NSW
  • Old Boys Day
  • FREE Panthers Banger Sticks and Try Banners
  • Tooheys New Members Badge Draw. One fan below walked away with 12K on game day just for being in attendance
  • Kidz Korner with carnival rides including The Ferris Wheel, Pirate Ship, Swinging Chair Ride, Tiger Castle and The Storm which are all FREE for kids of all ages.
  • Free face painting and hair spray station for kids

Further reading: Panthers game day review from FANS HQ #3

SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS

ST.GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS

 

  • Family Hill featured great activities for the kids with a jumping castle, green screen fun, face painters and the Dragons ‘pass the ball’ board.
  • ‘Sing To Win’ match day competition which gave fans the chance to win a $250 EFTPOS gift card thanks to Coca-Cola. To participate fans had to purchase a Coca-Cola product at the stadium and when the announcer asked them to stand up and sing they then showed the crowd their karaoke skills by singing into the Coca-Cola product.
  • Flag giveaways. 2000 free flags for fans
  • Regional game in Mudgee, NSW and member’s events
  • NRLW Player meet and greet with fans
  • ‘Fired Up’ Dance Cam
  • Signing Sessions
  • ‘Win a Spot’ in the team photo
  • Toowoomba Member’s Event
  • The heart warming story of the work that @TheNRLRoast and the Dragons player Jeremy Latinate did by trying to get a family with a child suffering from cerebral palsy into a training session before the Anzac Day game. The player helped the family get from Sydney and into a closed training session. All the players came up and got photos with the young fan and signed all his merch.

Further reading: Dragons game day review from FANS HQ #7

SYDNEY ROOSTERS

  • Rocky Run experience
  • Ticketing incentives like 30% off tix to celebrate 30 years at Allianz Stadium
  • Stand Up For a Jersey. Bisley WorkWear Make Yourself Visable competition to win a 2018 Roosters jersey
  • Ball Kid of the Game
  • World First jersey exchange with the team on the look out to upgrade old Roosters fans jerseys with a brand new 2018 jersey
  • Free popcorn on game days and row upgrades from sponsor Hoyts
  • The Roosters players featured the names of their mums in place of the sponsor logo on their jerseys in the Women In League round
  • Meet the NRLW Roosters players
  • Anniversary members lap of honour. Fans with 10, 20 etc year memberships got to walk around the ground pre-game
  •  stunning Roosters art work
  • Member’s BBQ

Further reading: Roosters game day review from FANS HQ #8

WESTS TIGERS

  • This Day Forward. The superb documentary series from the Tigers digital team. A must watch for all rugby league fans. They played this on the big screen before a game as well which was a nice idea to get fans into the ground earlier
  • Wests Tigers won the 2018 NRL Club Community Program of the Year for the club’s Varying Abilities Program
  • Free weekly wallpapers for fans mobiles and desktops from the digital team- a simple and nice touch for fans
  • Free TRY signs at games
  • Benji signing and giving away his boots to the young fan below
  • Fans First Initiatives at ANZ Stadium on F&B, ticket prices, free transport
  • KIA photo booth
  • Face Painting
  • Holiday clinics
  • Indigenous Round initiatives and activities for fans including: Traditional painting and didgeridoo lessons, Indigenous performances, Smoke ceremony performed by Muggera Dance Group, Clontarf Academy indigenous rugby league team game, Traditional Gift Exchange, Dance performances by Muggera Dance Group, Boot collection for regional communities. Additional pics from  and 
  • Wests Tigers fan bus #OnTheBus

Final note: 99% of the images here are mine having been taken on game days this year while traversing the grounds. I have however used images sourced from fans, venues and teams across their websites and social. Having previously worked in the music industry with photographers I am very conscious of respecting photographers copyright and work whether they be fan or professional. I have used some images under ‘fair use’ simply to highlight these fan engagement initiatives and have tried to credit everyone where possible. This article is also free and does not have any commercial gain attached to it. If you would like to be credited or have your photo removed please let me know and I will be happy to oblige with your demands. Thanks

The Importance and Benefits of Harnessing Fan Generated Content: An NRL 2018 Case Study

If it’s one part of the fan engagement spectrum that I have consistently championed over the years for clubs and my clients it has been to acknowledge, promote, utilise and harness the diverse skill sets of their fans. 

Fans have skills that can help a club in many ways whether it be from graphic design to podcasting and what we’re seeing more and more of is that teams are realising that they can create deeper emotional loyalty, new revenue opportunities and provide extra engaging content to their members and fans by working alongside these fan groups. 

Teams like the MLS Seattle Sounders are one of the best in the business when it comes to harnessing the skills of their fans. Every year they do a ‘Posters By The People‘ and a scarf design contest which allows Sounders fans of all ages and skill levels to contribute match day poster and scarf designs which are then voted on for by fellow fans and either used across the clubs official social media channels or produced for fans to wear on game day respectively.

It’s an incredibly effective and simple way to bring these fans closer to the team, highlight the skills and passions of their fans and overall it’s a positive thing to do. It’s not going to work for every team and it’s certainly never going to take over from the quality output that team staff do but it’s just a great look for a club to illustrate that they’re listening to their fans.

 

One reason for the proliferation of fan generated content has been because the barriers for entry into both graphic design and podcasting for instance have been broken down. You can now create quality designs and effective podcasts as a result of free design platforms like Canva whose intuitive platform enables anyone to get started creating content as well as podcasting’s explosion which has seen every man and his dog set up a podcast with the very basic of equipment. For both graphic design and podcasting the costs are also much lighter on the fans wallet these days as opposed to the past where expensive graphic design software and a recording studio would have stopped many fans from getting started. 

Now obviously the vast majority of fan generated content creators out there are not at the level of professional graphic designers or creating professional studio recorded quality podcasts such as what the league or teams contribute however what it does do is highlight that fans have these skills, that they’re building their own fan groups of fellow supporters of the same team and that their voice and that of fans voices globally are growing louder every day as they realise that they can create content that is highlighting their love for their team.

It’s impressive to see the rise and rise of the fan voice across the globe as they can now create content that other fans enjoy and engage with. Clubs should absolutely start tapping into this more and more as it shows an appreciation of the fans effort and compliments the work that their in house teams do whether that be in writing, podcasting, graphic design or other related fields. 

I recently posted this thread on Twitter highlighting the creative efforts of NRL fan content creators here in Australia after what has been a stellar year for the code with ratings, revenue, memberships, crowds all up as well as the establishment of the NRLW and games in Perth and Denver.

The game’s greatest asset is the fan so it is important to acknowledge these fans as they are constantly pumping out the positive, passionate and engaging content and I feel this illustrates my point that it is both vital and rewarding for clubs to find ways to engage, highlight, promote and harness the diverse range of skills of their fans as it is a win-win positive thing to do.

1. Podcasters

Having worked very closely in the podcasting space in recent times I have seen the rise of people wanting to get their passion into podcasting and as I said above the barriers have now decreased with a very basic bedroom podcasting set up costing well under $100. Podcast quality has also increased so while some pods may not be at a high quality level, whats happening is that fans are getting better the longer they stick with it. There’s also an incredibly strong community amongst these podcasters too. They do it for the love of the game. They promote each other and therefore that of the game and their team. They are broadcasters and should be taken seriously. 

Some of the podcasters out there in the NRL include:

Ladies Who League

Oh Errol

Full Credit To The Boys

The Full 80

Shark Cast

Fifth And Last

Progressive Rugby League

League Life NRL

Roosters Radio

Panthers Weekly

Dead in Goal

NRL Roast

Woody & Slugs Do League

Fire Up On FBI

This Week In League

Sports Best Friends

League Digest

Zero Tackle

NRL Boom Rookies

Fins Up Pod

League Counsel

ASD Podcast

View From The East Stand

2. Statistics/Game Data

Fans like stats guru Andrew Ferguson who runs one of the best league sites out there in Rugby League Project is an incredible fan generated site which houses a massive range of rugby league data and is an absolute credit to the game. I find myself using this site a lot as do other NRL fans. Another fan doing good things with stats is pythagoNRL.

3. Sports Science

In a classic case of a fan using their diverse skills to offer the rest of us an insight into player injuries and recovery, the NRL Physio has provided some really interesting insights and analysis for NRL fans this year. The NRL should find a way to utilise his skills as fans have greatly enjoyed his insights and graphics in real time during games on social as he provides game player injuries and recovery information and analysis. He knows he’s not affiliated with the NRL and that what he says is only his opinion however he has built an incredibly strong trust with fellow fans as a result of his skills and willingness to want to contribute to his passion.

4. Independent Broadcasters

The independent fan NRL media, broadcasters and writers like The 81st Minute, Steele Sport, League Unlimited, Nothing But NRL, Steve Mascord, James Smith, RLeagueLive, JasonNRL and even to an extent ‘The Fan which while it may be shown on Fox Sports is run by mega league fan Andrew Voss who consistently provides outstanding behind the scenes storytelling that fans greatly enjoy. 

5. Fan Club Social Accounts

The NRL fan club accounts across social constantly provide fellow fans with a passionate atmosphere at games as well as insights and analysis throughout the week and add to the stories and content from the club but from their perspective as hardcore fans.

Some of these include: 

NRL Bulldogs Fans

Nothing But Knights

The Greenhouse- Canberra Raiders

Red V Mail- St George-Illawarra Dragons

NZ Warriors Die Hards

The Burrow- Souths

Wests Tigers Hub

Titans Legion- Gold Coast Titans

NQ Stampede- NQ Cowboys

Eels The Cumberland Throw- Parramatta

6. Social Commentators

The often hilarious NRL social commentators who constantly provide cheeky laughs, clever analysis, interesting stats, glorious memories as well as cutting through the media bullshit, crisis merchants and spin that often snakes its way into the game. In fact what we’ve seen this year is that as a result of the positives in the game as well as the huge level of fan generated content and these positive fan voices in NRL that fans have collectively called out the rubbish reporting and negativity in rugby league. 

Some of the accounts to follow on Twitter for instance include:

Boring NRL Guy

Sports Freakshow

Former Legend

Karate Warrior 2

Winfield Cup

NRL Grammar Cop

Simpsons NRL 

7. The Graphic Designers

The graphic designers like  and  as well as others who’ve put their own skills and spin on things to create interesting NRL content like jersey designs and artworks are to be applauded. Perhaps a game day poster idea could be something teams could think about for 2019 and then have these around town prior to a game to promote the match. 

8. The Hardcore Fans

And then there’s fans like who travelled 19259.4kms for 24/24 Parramatta Eels matches this year, documenting his journey along the way for fellow NRL fans to enjoy. What were some of the other great NRL fan stories you enjoyed from 2018?

Overall it’s been a huge positive year for both the NRL and NRL fans and I just wanted to put this together before the start of the NRL finals to shine a light on some of the creative content creators and fans out there who go above and beyond for the game. League’s greatest asset is the fan and the faster clubs around the globe realise the benefits of working closer with these particular fans and their skills, the more the game, fans and the code as a whole will grow together.

2017 AFLGF and NRLGF Fan Engagement/Experience Overview

With the 2017 AFL (Adelaide Crows Vs. Richmond Tigers) and NRL (Melbourne Storm Vs. North Queensland Cowboys) grand finals happening in Melbourne and Sydney this weekend respectively here’s a quick snapshot of what fans can look forward to in the lead up and on the day at both of these major Australian sporting events. 

AFL

Starting with the AFL and the league has done a tremendous job down in Yarra Park outside the MCG with the massive free AFL Footy Festival which has been put on for big and small Aussie Rules fans. Featuring a fan engagement extravaganza of authentic sponsor activations, photo opportunities and giveaways, the free footy festival is a young fans paradise.

The focus on fan engagement for kids here is impressive with the AFL Rookie Passport standing out along with the ‘Dunkinator’, ‘Tower of Torp’ and countless skills drills workshops involving the Sherrin footies bouncing all over the park. The new UberEATS partnership allows fans to skip the queues at an exclusive VIP area while there’s loads of gourmet F&B offerings from local food trucks like Biggie Smalls and Gelato Messina. If you’re in Melbourne it’s well worth getting down here to check it all out and take in the AFL Grand Final atmosphere.

Doughnut Time has some special Dustin Martin and Tex Walker styled doughnuts for fans to try while there are endless photo opportunities, bars and food stands that deserve a look in. This is one impressive set up outside the G!

Here’s a walk through of the event I did on Wednesday when it first opened. 

Uber is also giving fans in Melbourne $20 in free credit (with no catches) to enable them to get to or from the game at the MCG. There is also a dedicated Uber pick up and drop off zone outside the MCG on Clarendon Street where fans will no doubt be given a code to wait for their driver to arrive as has been the case with my experiences outside NBA and NFL venues with Uber partnerships. The Melbourne free tram zone has also been extended to allow fans more access to get to and from the venue for a cheaper price and relieve congestion. 

The Adelaide Crows have held an open training session and also updated their impressive club app to include ‘Facepaint’ which allows fans to paint their faces within the app. 

The Richmond Tigers have also put on a live site on Saturday for fans without AFL Grand Final tickets but this is sure to sell out. 

My tip: Adelaide Crows by 26.

 

NRL

The NRL put on a fan fest on Thursday for rugby league fans at Luna Park which featured rides, player appearances and a family zone. Fans were able to grab some photos with players, see the grand final teams be presented and see all the mascots in a mascot parade. 

At Sydney’s ANZ Stadium on Sunday fans are able to secure a free cap from sponsor 47 Brand who are giving away 60,000 free caps with the NRL and NRLGF logo on them to fans. The venue is also giving fans the chance to grab a special limited edition grand final cup inside the stadium too but no doubt these and the caps will go quickly. 

The Storm and Cowboys each have grand finals tees which fans can buy while Storm fans can go on a cruise and to get to the game which sounds like a fun idea out on the Sydney harbour. Fans also get free transport included with their ticket to the match. 

NRL fans have the chance to be picked up in a Golden Holden by booking with Uber for their ride to ANZ Stadium on Sunday while the Cowboys held an open training session and put on a grand final parade in Townsville to send the team off. 

My tip: North Queensland Cowboys by 8.

Women In Sport Australia 2016: Learn What’s Happening Across Five Codes In Australian Women’s Sport

AFL Women's Players

AFL Women’s Players

I’m calling it now. Some of you already know this and have been saying this for a while so it’s by no means news to you.

The rise, positivity and excitement of women’s sport in Australia will be the sport success story of 2017. 

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past 12 months you might have missed the fact that women’s sport is booming in Australia with pay, sponsorship, broadcast and attendance records all being smashed in a host of women’s team sports.

The focus on women’s sport in Australia has never been more exciting as a result of plenty of wins off the field including the new AFL Women’s competition starting in 2017, the Commonwealth Bank and Suncorp’s investment in cricket and netball respectively as well as the recent pay rises for AFL Women and the rising participation rates of females in rugby league.

While it’s a very positive time in Australian sport right now, it’s clear that there is still progress to be made to level the playing field in terms of pay and to shine a light on these superstar female athletes through even better TV broadcasting deals which will further engage fans.

These player’s personal brands are rising and in turn making them superstars of their respective games while other benefits are being seen in that new jobs are being created, crowds are continuing to rise, more young girls are playing sport and more people are watching women’s sport on TV and online.

Do yourself a favour and make sure you head out to a women’s match over summer. Take in some WBBL or a W-League game and then pick a team for the Netball and AFL competitions and get to some games in 2017 to see for yourself how much passion and skill these talented women display on the pitch.

Here are some of the key developments that have been happening in just five of the team codes over the past 3-6 months in Australian women’s sport.

AFL Women’s

  • The minimum wage for participants covering a 22-week period – including seven rounds of home and away games and the grand final – has been lifted by 70 per cent from $5000 to $8500 in 2017 following a backlash against the original offer.
  • Priority signings and top draft picks will earn $12,000, up from $10,000, while the 16 marquee players also get a $2000 increase to $27,000 under the improved deal nutted out between the AFL and the players association.
  • The deal also covers football boots and runners, an interstate travel allowance, income protection insurance, out-of-pocket medical expenses and childcare for mothers of infants.
  • The AFL Women’s season opener is scheduled for February, 2017.
  • COTTON On has recruited several female football stars to help create the uniforms for the AFL’s groundbreaking women’s league. The powerhouse company beat out other leading women’s brands, including Lorne Jane and Lululemon, for the long-term deal.
  • The COAR (Cotton On Active Range) specifically-designed fit has been created to complement the female form and enhance player performance.
  • In 2017, marquee players will receive a financial package of $27,000 (inclusive of $10,000 for their marketing and ambassadorial role), the priority players $12,000 and the remaining listed players $8,500 for the seven match (plus Grand Final) season.
  • The packages will increase to $27,946, $12,846 and $9,276 respectively in 2018.
  • The AFL Commission recently approved an increase to the initial remuneration package offered to all players to contribute to the cost of the required level of private health insurance, as well as further raising the base level payment.

In addition to the package, the NAB AFL Women’s players will receive:

  • Football boots and runners
  • Travel allowance when playing interstate
  • Income protection insurance
  • Coverage for out-of-pocket medical expenses for the 52 weeks post contract
  • An allowance to pay for a carer when travelling interstate in cases where a player has a child under 12 months

Football- W-League

  • Amateur players will now receive an allowance in line with male National Youth League (NYL) and state competitions – between $60 and $150 a week.
  • The FFA has set a salary cap of $150,000 per W-League club, with a minimum spend of just $35,000.
  • American sports broadcaster ESPN 3 will televise live W-League games in the USA.
  • Currently, only the Australian women’s team has a CBA for pay, playing, travel and training conditions which includes just 20 players on full-time contracts.
  • Australia wins recognition for women’s development as it expands its activity in Asia

Cricket

  • Female cricketers have had another victory in their push for pay equality with the Commonwealth Bank investing $15 million in the women’s game and diversity over the next three years.
  • The landmark deal is the single largest investment in women’s sport and diversity programs ever seen in Australia, with Commonwealth Bank investing more than $5 million per year over three years from 2017-18.
  • Cricket Australia will produce and digitally stream almost all of the upcoming Women’s Big Bash League domestic competition, including telecasting matches via Facebook.
  • Cricket Australia announces 47 WBBL matches will be live streamed on cricket.com.au and Facebook
  • The WBBL season will kick off with a free, weekend-long carnival of cricket in Sydney on December 10-11 at North Sydney Oval, with all eight clubs to feature and six matches to be played over two days.
  • The NSW Lendlease Breakers made history by becoming the country’s first fully professional domestic women’s sporting team.
  • Breakers players now earn at least the minimum of $35,000, with the top international players earning $100,000 or more.
  • WACA appoints first female deputy chair
  • CA recently increased the payment pool for elite female cricketers from $2.36 million to $4.23 million.
  • The best players in the women’s Big Bash League will be on a retainer of $15,000.
  • Southern Stars players now earn over $100,000.

Rugby League

  • Cronulla are the first club to sign a woman to an official playing contract, withRuan Sims, 34, inking a deal with the club.
  • The league boasts a female commissioner, a female board member with the NSW Rugby League and 13 female board members across the 16 NRL clubs.
  • Almost 500,000 girls and women play a form of the game nationally, with female participation the fastest growing area of the game.
  • More than 68,000 members across the clubs are female.
  • NSW Rugby League announced the creation of a nine-a-side under-18s women’s league to start next year.
  • Women’s rugby league fastest growing sport in Queensland

Women in league: the numbers:

  • 482,000+ girls and women involved in playing the game (touch, tag or tackle)
  • Female participation up 27 per cent on 2015
  • 2,000+ female coaches, sports trainers and referees
  • 5,200+ registered female volunteers
  • 90+ female-only rugby league competitions
  • 68,000+ female NRL club members

Rugby

  • A report into the future of rugby predicts global participation will double to reach 15 million by 2026, and that the surge in numbers will be led by players in the sevens ­format, particularly women.
  • The report, commissioned by HSBC, says women’s rugby is the fastest growing sport in the world, adding 500,000 players a year for the past few years.

Netball

  • Collingwood, the Melbourne Storm and Greater Western Sydney have been confirmed as the new preferred bidders for brand new franchises in Australia’s revamped netball competition.
  • The five-year broadcasting deal with the Nine Network and Telstra will ensure live free-to-air TV coverage of two games a week for the 2017 season.
  • Netball Australia confirms new eight-team division and bumper broadcasting deal.
  • Netball announced that its new national league would have a total player pool of $5.4 million (averaging out to $67,500 a player), taking a leap towards full professionalism.
  • Suncorp was on Monday unveiled as the new backer of the new league which boasts five established teams and three brand new clubs.
  • The new national league next year will see 80 players share a pool of almost $5.5 million and it is hoped the sport could become fully professional within five years.

Here is a wealth of information from news sites regarding the biggest stories around women in sport with a focus on the broadcast deals, sponsorship agreements, fan engagement, pay increases and the new superstars of these codes. This makes for a good read if you’d like to educate yourself on what is happening in women in sport in Australia.

 

  1. AFL women’s league compared to start of WNBA 20 years ago
  2. W-League broadcasting breakthrough indicative of progress for women’s sport
  3. Why the AFL is paying lip service to women’s sport
  4. Ellyse Perry says new women’s sport leagues in Australia will benefit female athletes across codes
  5. Netball Australia confirms new eight-team division and bumper broadcasting deal
  6. Women’s cricket gets $15 million investment ‘to keep pace with AFL, netball’
  7. Women’s AFL competition could spark turf war with netball, cricket, W-League and rugby
  8. Moya Dodd, 2016 overall winner of 100 Women of Influence on the power of sport
  9. Cricket Australia to stream women’s Big Bash online and Facebook
  10. Times are changing for the better in women’s sport, writes Natalie von Bertouch
  11. AFL women’s competition sparks arms race for best female athletes
  12. Sexism in sport: ‘If the surf turns to s**t, send the girls out’
  13. SA’s inspiring women are driving sport — and the state- forward
  14. Lauren Jackson out to force change in WNBL as competition stumbles
  15. Why GWS Giants recruit Jacinda Barclay is the Sonny Bill Williams of women’s sport
  16. Australia’s Charlotte Caslick named women’s rugby sevens player of the year
  17. Women’s sports turning professional needs television
  18. The surprising obstacles to getting more women into competitive sport
  19. AFL Women’s captain on the rise of women’s sport: ‘It’s about time’
  20. Australia’s rugby women win Oceania title ahead of World Series sevens opener in Dubai
  21. Super Netball: New name, new game, new era for netballers
  22. $15m deal for women’s cricket a ‘landmark agreement for Australian sport’
  23. Ellyse Perry hopes NSW Breakers will pave the way for women’s professional sport
  24. AFL women happy with improved pay deal
  25. AFL Women’s competition fulfils dreams, but requires big sacrifices for Giants’ Mai Nguyen
  26. Netball Aust announces deal with Suncorp
  27. All W-League players to be paid after pay deal signed
  28. NSW Breakers become first fully professional women’s team in Australia
  29. Ruan Sims: Cronulla Sharks deal is first paid women’s league contract
  30. Netball pay deal: Athletes set to earn double the previous minimum wage
  31. An entire women’s AFL team costs less than an average male player
  32. AFL women’s competition provides a pathway for young women into professional sport
  33. AFL national women’s league a chance to take the sport ‘next level’
  34. Australian netball launches onto the main stage with TV deal
  35. Women’s sport pay not in the ballpark
  36. ‘Vast’ gender wage gap still exists within billion-dollar sports industry
  37. Investment in women’s sport key to levelling the playing field
  38. Our Watch: Four top sport codes sign up to promote better attitudes about women
  39. Women’s elite sports prepare for challenge of new AFL league
  40. Top female players to earn over $100,000 in new Cricket Australia pay scheme
  41. Every WBBL match to be broadcast live
  42. CA, CommBank make landmark investment
  43. WACA appoints first female deputy chair
  44. TasWeekend: Women’s cricket on quest to bowl over new audience
  45. Sharks sign another Jillaroo to historic deal
  46. Sharks Sign Woman To An Official NRL Playing Contract
  47. Girls just want to play rugby league
  48. Sevens the driver to bring women and children into rugby
  49. Not everyone’s a fan of females on the footy field
  50. NRL Women in League round kicks off as female participation increases
  51. Women of rugby league earn stripes as female participation grows
  52. Women’s rugby league fastest growing sport in Queensland, empowers outback women
  53. Fox Sports’ Lara Pitt backs calls for more female rugby league callers
  54. Women’s AFL, NRL and rugby competitions are welcome and overdue, but why now?
  55. NSW Rugby League announce creation of a nine-a-side under-18s women’s league
  56. Women’s rugby league passes test with flying colours as Cronulla beat Dragons in historic nines match
  57. Why the professionalisation of women’s sport in Australia could put Olympic performances under threat
  58. Success of women’s rugby league seen in TV broadcast, sponsorships and public interest
  59. AFL Women’s payment terms agreed
  60. AFL Women’s teams reveal new-look playing uniforms
  61. AFL: Northern beaches’ pioneer signed to play in new national women’s competition
  62. AFL Women’s league reveals its Geelong-made new uniforms
  63. AFL Victoria releases control of local women’s leagues, will create more football jobs
  64. AFL Women’s League – the frequently asked questions
  65. FFA and PFA in talks over first collective bargaining agreement for W-League
  66. Australia wins recognition for women’s development as it expands its activity in Asia