Soul-searching over for Titans
It was an announcement to herald construction of new facilities to rival anything in Australian sport but board member and benefactor Darryl Kelly says the new agreement to make Club Parkwood the Titans' home from 2016 will give the club something even more valuable: soul.
The fourth incarnation of a first grade rugby league team on the Gold Coast, the Titans have lived a largely transient existence over the past nine seasons, playing games first at Carrara and then Robina and training out of Runaway Bay, Robina, The Southport School and currently Pizzey Park, home of the Burleigh Bears.
In the formative years the Titanium Bar in Surfers Paradise served as the primary conduit between players and fans but since its closure in late 2012 there has not been a venue that the Titans faithful could call their own.
That will change in 2016 with construction to begin soon on an ambitious project at Parkwood International Golf Club costing between $20-30 million that will become the long-term home of the Gold Coast Titans.
Speaking exclusively with NRL.com, Kelly said turning around the fortunes of a football club was more difficult and expensive than he originally envisaged but hailed Friday's announcement as the step needed to finally make the Titans an entrenched part of the Gold Coast community.
"There was no soul," Kelly told NRL.com of the club's nomadic existence.
"It's such an important step in re-establishing the connection with the community and giving us some security around our tenure and providing the football department with the facilities they need to do the job properly.
"The club's been a bit of a paradox in some ways because we do so much work out in the community but there was always this talk that we never engaged in the community.
"There was a perception and a reality and perception is more important than reality, unfortunately. This and the programs that we're going to be doing going forward are all about mending that perception.
"There have been a lot of excuses used for why people haven't supported us; they're all in the past.
"We were absolutely blown away when the NRL stepped in. The lift in membership to support us was astronomical and we need that to continue.
"We're working very hard to see it continue, we're doing all we can and the value that will be in club membership now with what we've announced and what we're announcing in the future will make it a no-brainer to be a member of the Titans football club."
The Titans and the NRL, the club's current owners, have been able to partner with Parkwood without making any capital contribution, the club to take up a 10-year lease to domicile themselves at Parkwood which is located less than 15 minutes from Southport and 25 minutes from Cbus Super Stadium.
Existing members of the Titans will automatically become members of Parkwood and receive access to member benefits valued at $60 while there are new social membership options starting from $5 designed to unite Titans fans of all ages.
The players will have access to a dedicated floodlit training field, gymnasium, 25-metre lap pool, hydrotherapy baths, altitude chamber, indoor training courts and change rooms and after 18 months apart the football and administration arms will come together at the one facility.
Kelly had made initial steps to fund a purpose-built facility at Coomera but said the Parkwood agreement will be a much richer relationship for all concerned.
"We'd started the process already," Kelly said of the Coomera development that was unveiled at the end of the 2014 season.
"We'd appointed a project manager, we'd appointed an architect, we'd done soil testing, we would have been up and running by now.
"But this gave us more than what Coomera was ever going to do for us because it gave us better engagement with the community.
"That was just going to be training and headquarters; this is a completely different kettle of fish.
"The facilities that are going to be here for our members are going to exceed anything we could have ever done out there."