The round 20 NRL clash between the Canterbury Bulldogs and Gold Coast Titans could be played in Bundaberg with Salter Oval flagged as a potential venue.
Bundaberg Regional Council Mayor Jack Dempsey said he’d thrown his full support behind the initiative which would see the region host a NRL game for premiership points.
“Officials from Canterbury Bulldogs have been talking to me about staging their round 20 game on 1 August against the Gold Coast Titans in Bundaberg,” Mayor Dempsey said.
“Having the NRL in Bundaberg will inspire the next Mal Meninga or another local champion to carry on Bundaberg’s outstanding reputation for producing great rugby league talent.”
The mayor believes a crowd of around 8000 could be expected for the game, rivalling the record attendance at Salter Oval of 8122 for the 2016 pre-season game between the Broncos and Cowboys.
And he said it wasn’t just the crowds that would offer an economic boost for the region.
“The value of national exposure for Bundaberg would be priceless,” Mayor Dempsey said.
The discussions come several weeks after NRL legend Wayne Bennett suggested an expansion club should be located in Bundaberg.
“Who knows, if we get a big enough crowd to a regular-season game, anything is possible.
“It’s hoped a decision on the round 20 clash will be made soon to enable planning and the installation of temporary grandstands.”
Mayor Dempsey said he had already approached the State Government for assistance with costs.
“Local member Tom Smith has been very supportive.
“The Government is very encouraging towards top-level sport being played in regional Queensland, as seen by State of Origin going to Townsville.
“I’m hoping the Government, the Bulldogs and the NRL will decide to play the round 20 clash in Bundaberg.”
Salter Oval also hosted first-class cricket in 1981 between Queensland and New Zealand.
Mayor Dempsey said, if he had his way, there would be plenty more first-class sport played in the region.
“In addition to attracting high-level domestic sporting events, I’m advocating for the Bundaberg Region to host training and competition for the 2032 Olympics if Queensland’s bid is successful,” he said.
“We have ideal venues for sailing, rowing, kite surfing and shooting.
“We’re planning a new aquatic centre which would be suitable as an Olympics training base.”