Brumbies remain loyal to home fans
May 22, 2000

At what price comes ferocious home town support?

The ACT Brumbies are prepared to forgo more than $500,000 in order to ensure they have the full support of their fans for the Super 12 rugby final on Saturday night.
The Brumbies had a choice of shifting the match - against two-time champions the Crusaders - to Sydney.

The Brumbies' home ground Bruce Stadium holds slightly over 25,000, while the Sydney Football Stadium seats over 42,000. That 17,000-seat difference comes at a heavy cost, as gate takings at the SFS would have returned net gate takings of around $1.2 million, based on $30 a ticket, against only $500,000 at Bruce Stadium, where prices are lower.

While there are hidden costs such as stadium hire and contractual obligations, that still equates to what would have been a healthy windfall of between $500,000 and $750,000, which the Brumbies are waiving to stay at home.

ACT Rugby Union business manager Mike Hannan said that with an 81 per cent Super 12 success rate at home, against only a 36 per cent on the road for the Brumbies, moving the game had never been considered by local officials. And that was not even considering the passionately one-eyed supporter base that Wallabies five-eighth Stephen Larkham last week said equated to around 10 to 12 points per match.

"Did we ever consider playing away from Bruce - the answer is no," Hannan said. "This is the home of the team, this is where the team was formed and from where it draws its character."

The long-term survival of a team in any sporting code depended on building a strong local community support base for the team, Hannan said.

"And so we could have gone to Sydney and probably sold 40,000 seats at a higher price, but we would have also lost the support of the 16,000 hard-core punters who turn up every other normal week," he said.

On top of gate takings, the Brumbies have also won an extra $175,000 from Super 12 sponsors AAMI for making the final. But Hannan said that was offset by a $75,000 payment to the Golden Cats, who lost last weekend's semi-final, and $100,000 which has to go to the Crusaders for this weekend's match.

Both sums come out of gate-takings and are set down in Super 12 rules as the dividend for a visiting team in the play-offs. Other expenses had to go to the Australian Rugby Union and fellow Australian Super 12 sides Queensland and New South Wales, as well as the local junior rugby base.

"I don't know if there are any football teams in the country that are making big money out of playing football," Hannan said. "And from the point of view of the Brumbies, our long-term viability depends on us supporting our local supporter base and that means keeping the game here."

Brought to you by AAP

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