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The NRL may adopt a Super Bowl-type model for future grand finals after announcing a one-year deal with the NSW Government for this year’s premiership decider to remain at Accor Stadium in Sydney.

The decision followed protracted negotiations with the NSW and Queensland Governments over the venue for the October 2 decider and the ARL Commission will now consider all options for future seasons, including rotating the showpiece event between the states.

ARLC chairman Peter V’landys said the commission had been on the cusp of taking this year’s grand final to Suncorp Stadium before an 11th hour bid by the NSW Government to keep it in Sydney but future deciders may be up for grabs unless a long-term deal is negotiated.

“I want to point out that the NSW Government has given an additional investment, but this is only for one year, and I have to stress that. It’s not for the long term,” V’landys said.

V'landys: Door open for Super Bowl-type concept

“Negotiations will recommence for future grand finals, [but] it has really now put it on the table for the future. It hasn’t been [before now] because we were hoping that we would have an exclusive arrangement with the NSW Government.

“Unfortunately, that is no longer the case so it opens the door for a Super Bowl-type concept, or whoever can give us the best deal for the game.

“I think it has got to the situation now that out of every negative is a positive, and the positive here is that we have four clubs in Queensland [the Broncos, Cowboys, Dolphins and Titans].

"If you pro-rata it, every one in four years should go to Queensland, by rights.

“It has given us the opportunity to look at that now, so any negotiation we do with the NSW Government may be that they get it every three years and the Queensland Government gets it one year. That is what we are going to look at.”

The opportunity to consider playing the grand final outside of Sydney has arisen after the NSW Government backed away from an agreement to spend $800m on stadium infrastructure in the city.

Last year’s grand final was played at Suncorp Stadium due to COVID restrictions that forced the entire NRL competition to relocate to Queensland but the NRL decider was due to be played in Sydney each season until 2042.

However, after agreeing to divert the $800m initially set aside for redeveloping Accor Stadium into a network of suburban venues like CommBank Stadium, the NSW Government announced earlier this month that only Penrith would get a new stadium.

An ARL Commission meeting on Wednesday night strongly considered taking the grand final to Brisbane but felt it was in the best interests of fans and stakeholders for it to remain in Sydney this season while negotiations continue.

“There was a deal on the table, there was an agreement,” V’landys said. “It is not as though we have asked for anything above that agreement.

“With the limited time that we had, we said we would continue negotiations into the future, and I stress that this is only a one-year deal."

How close did Queensland come?

There were reports on Wednesday that Suncorp Stadium was the more likely venue for this year's grand final after an approach by Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

However, V'landys said that new NSW Sports Minister Alister Henskens had played a pivotal role in convincing the ARLC to stick with Accor Stadium for this year only.   

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“I am quite candid that up until last night’s commission meeting, if you had asked me at that time, it would have gone to Queensland," V'landys said.

"That’s how close it was and if we didn’t have discussions with the NSW Government late yesterday afternoon that is probably the way it would have headed.

“It has been a very hard decision because the Queensland premier has been fantastic to deal with, but at the same time the new [NSW] sports minister Alister Henskens has been extremely professional and courteous.

"It is only that reason we were able to come to the conclusion we have."

NRL CEO Andrew Abdo added: “I think it is important to acknowledge and point out that the Queensland Government played a huge role for us last year with the relocation of the competition and hosting the grand final at really short notice. We have got a great relationship with them, particularly around Magic Round.

"Our job now is to make sure that we act in the best interests of the game for the long term so we need to think about that very carefully and have discussions with everyone to make sure we get the best possible outcome."

What was the deal with the NSW Government?

The NRL believes that upgrading suburban venues such as Leichhardt Oval, PointsBet Stadium and 4 Pines Park will provide benefits to local communities.

The proposed stadium upgrades, including the re-building of Allianz Stadium, was an issue the government campaigned on at the 2019 state election.

The 2022 NRLW captains
The 2022 NRLW captains ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

“This was an agreement many years ago to invest $800m into ANZ Stadium [now Accor Stadium], the government went to an election with that promise," V'landys said.

"What we said to them was that they were better off spending that money on suburban community assets, and CommBank is the best example of that. It is a world class venue, it is a delight to watch any event there and we wanted that replicated in all areas.

“It’s not new money, it is not that we have gone with a begging bowl looking for more. It is just honouring the existing $800m that they went to an election with to be spent on suburban stadiums."

What if there is a change of government in NSW? 

With the next NSW election in 2023, it may be the Labor Party, under Chris Minns, which decides the fate of future grand finals.

However, the NRL believes there is a compelling case for improved stadium infrastructure in Sydney regardless of who is in power.

NRL CEO Andrew Abdo and ARLC chairman Peter V'landys announce details of the 2022 grand final
NRL CEO Andrew Abdo and ARLC chairman Peter V'landys announce details of the 2022 grand final ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

“Whatever government is in we will always act in the best interests of rugby league, that is our job," V'landys said.

"We have had meetings with Chris, and Chris is certainly favourable to the suburban stadiums and community assets. He sees the value in them. They are all multi-use assets.

"This is an investment, it is not a handout. You have to have a business case to show that you are going to get return on capital.

“Everyone has this fallacy that these are handouts, but they are investments into those local communities. The amount of economic stimulus that has been put back into Parramatta is immense, so much so that stadium is probably already paid for.

“Ask the restaurant owners, ask the café owners and all the local businesses, they are thriving because the local money is spent in the local community. 

I am proud in rugby league to walk into CommBank Stadium. It is such a great facility, it is one of the best in the world, why can’t every club have one of those."

When will 2022 grand final tickets go on sale?

Accor Stadium and Ticketek were advised of details of the grand final on Thursday afternoon and NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said fans will have the first opportunity to buy tickets next week. 

“Historically this is the period where we do get engagement from our fans about the grand final because typically fans wait to see who is in the running and which teams are in the mix," Abdo said.

“We are excited now because we are entering into the finals phase. Next week tickets are going to be on sale and that is the beauty of playing at Accor Stadium – there are a lot of tickets available for fans.

"Of course, we hold tickets back for that final week once the grand final teams are known, so there is still plenty of time but it was important we draw a line in the sand to give everyone an opportunity to get their tickets and make their travel arrangements.

“We have got certainty for our fans, we are going on sale and options for 2023 onwards remain available to us. I think that is exciting for our fans."


Grand Final Tickets
Wednesday August 24:
Ticketed Members Presale -1pm; Non-ticketed Members Presale - 2pm; NRL Account Holders + NRL Waitlist Presale - 4pm.
Thursday 25th August: General Public -11am

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