Brisbane Bombers director Nicholas Livermore hopes a merger with the rival Western Corridor bid team will help convince the ARL Commission that the 17th team NRL team should be based in Ipswich.
The ARLC is due to make a mid-year decision on whether to expand the Telstra Premiership by admitting a second Brisbane club in 2023 and the merger of the rival bids has thrown down the gauntlet to Redcliffe Dolphins and Brisbane Firehawks.
“I would like to think this will be the winning bid and demonstrates to the ARL Commission that we have got Brisbane as a whole, in terms of that market share the Broncos don’t represent,” Livermore said.
“We aim to pick up existing rugby league fans who aren’t Broncos fans and just as importantly that huge catchment area in Logan, Ipswich and Toowoomba.”
The Bombers and Western Corridor bid, led by Ipswich Jets chairman Steve Johnson, have each been formed for about a decade as separate entities vying for entry to the NRL.
The name and logo of the new entity has yet to be determined but it is likely to have an aviation theme, although Bombers has been ruled out.
Johnson said the team would be based in Ipswich and play at Suncorp Stadium.
He said there had been significant changes in what would be required to be the winning bid since discussions began about nine or 10 years ago.
“It is very important to us that we connect our big community work with the commercial side of it, which the Bombers bring in spades," Johnson said.
“It is really a wonderful combination of our rugby league base with their business base and it makes a very powerful bid.”
The Western Corridor bid represents a catchment area of 19,000 players in Logan City, Ipswich and Toowoomba that is set to rapidly grow with the population projected to be 1.5 million in 20 years.
“Ultimately we just want to see the game benefit as a result of another team in Brisbane and when we started to have a bit of an informal chat some time ago we just realised the synergies were there,” Livermore said.
“We were having chats with the Toowoomba Rugby League and Souths Logan, and they fall under Steve’s catchment so a lot of the processes and structures Steve has got in place were what we were working on anyway.
“If we are going to be genuine about growing the game we have got to park self-interest and it seemed insane to replicate that.”
It is expected that any new team vying with the Broncos would want Wayne Bennett or Craig Bellamy in some sort of coaching capacity – either as head coach or coaching director.
The Walker brothers, Shane and Ben, are also likely to be involved as they have a long and successful record coaching Ipswich.