Final insult of Beattie’s dud deal on grand finals
ARL Commission chairman Peter Beattie has been accused of abandoning Queensland rugby league fans after the snubbing of Suncorp Stadium in favour of the Sydney Cricket Ground to host next year's NRL grand final.
Pressure is mounting on the former premier, who lives in the inner-city Sydney suburb of Balmain, to force the NRL to reconsider its grand final insult.
Beattie, who still thinks Suncorp is the best rugby league ground in Australia, has blamed NRL contractual arrangements for the rebuff.
The outrageous slight angered Maroon greats including Wally Lewis and Corey Parker and inflamed readers of couriermail.com.au.
Lewis, a former Broncos and Queensland captain, lampooned the oval-shaped SCG as a grand final venue, saying spectators would not see the action.
"When you're sitting on the halfway mark you're going to be about 45m from the sideline, so it's probably advisable for them to bring their binoculars along to see the game," Lewis said.
Parker said the SCG would totally lack atmosphere.
"I don't know the politics around why the SCG was picked, but I've played at stadiums all over the world and none compare to Suncorp Stadium," Parker said.
The NRL on Wednesday opted for the SCG, while ANZ Stadium, which has hosted grand finals since 1999, undergoes a major facelift.
The SCG will not only host the 2020 NRL grand final, but could also get the 2021 decider.
A newly built Allianz Stadium at Sydney's Moore Park will be considered for the 2022 NRL grand final before the completion of a remodelled 70,000-seat ANZ Stadium in 2023.
The NRL's grand final hosting strategy is a kick in the guts for Queensland and Suncorp Stadium, which holds 52,500 seats, superior to the 46,000-capacity SCG.
The decision angered fans, with hundreds of NRL supporters throwing their support behind a Suncorp Stadium grand final in an exclusive couriermail.com.au poll yesterday.
Three-quarters of the approximately 2000 respondents said the 2020 decider should be held at Suncorp, while just 16 per cent backed the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Beattie said contractual commitments to the NSW Government were a key factor in the decision.
"We did a deal some time ago, which agreed that if the (NSW) Government rebuilt Allianz and ANZ Stadium, then NSW gets the grand final for the next 25 years," he told The Courier-Mail.
"Quite rightly, there is a difference in size between the SCG and Suncorp Stadium. Suncorp has a greater capacity, but the NSW Government gets the first right of negotiations in all of this.
"The bottom line is we did a deal with them and we have to honour that deal."
Beattie said the NRL had not ruled out Suncorp as a possible grand-final contingency for 2021 if negotiations with the NSW Government collapsed.
He defended the sport's commitment to Queensland league fans, pointing to last month's Magic Round, where all 16 NRL teams played in four days at Suncorp.
"I was among the people who pushed for the Magic Round to go to Suncorp because the grand finals were going to be in Sydney," Beattie said. "Suncorp has the ability to do (a grand final). It is a magnificent stadium.
"We have a problem in 2021 and the NSW Government have to help us solve it. If they don't we will look at other options, including Suncorp."
State Tourism and Major Events Minister Kate Jones said that Queensland was "continuously being ripped off by the NRL".
"Queensland is the only state that continues to deliver record crowds to rugby league matches each and every single week," she said.
"We have continuously shown loyalty to the NRL and rugby league, and it is about bloody time they show that loyalty back to us."