NRL history too great for a grand final move to Brisbane
THIS opinion will more than likely go down like a lead balloon in Queensland, but I'm not a fan of the NRL grand final being moved from Sydney.
Not after 2019. Not ever.
Admittedly, Brisbane appears to be the hub of the game.
No one can dispute the magnificent Suncorp Stadium crowd figures of recent years for NRL games, Origin matches and Tests.
The week-in week-out apathy of Sydney fans is unquestionably an on-going headache for administrators and mounts a strong argument for that city surrendering its historic right to host the grand final.
It is logical to ask that if fans don't vote with their feet, why should they be rewarded for their indifference to our game?
But the NRL grand final is not just another game of footy.
It is a sporting ritual, an iconic national event and as such, an integral part of the game's tradition.
And as we endeavour to build our game into a truly national sport, tradition is one piece of the puzzle rugby league cannot afford to lose.
Whether Queenslanders like it or not, Sydney is the spiritual home of rugby league.
That is where the game in this country was born back in 1908 and where the grand final has been held since 1930, when grand finals replaced first-past-the post premierships.
Only once since has a grand final been held outside Sydney and that was the one and the only Super League decider in 1997.
But, that same year the NSWRL grand final was still played at the SCG.
I get it that the almighty dollar plays a major role in all facets of professional sport these days.
And no doubt the Queensland Government would love nothing more than to pilfer the NRL grand final from Sydney when the current agreement with their NSW counterparts expires at the end of 2019.
But while the NRL administration is adept at putting a price on most things, the grand final should not be one of them.
In this case maintaining our tradition, heritage, history and culture is much more significant than the mighty dollar.
Another negative on moving the grand final to Brisbane would be the crowd factor.
More than 30,000 - many of them kids - would be robbed of an opportunity to attend the big event if it was switched from ANZ to Suncorp.
Can anyone in their wildest dreams imagine the Melbourne Cup being moved to Doomben or Randwick?
Or the Australian Open Tennis to Brisbane's Pat Rafter Arena?
And would the AFL give even a fleeting second of consideration to suggestions their grand final be played anywhere other than the MCG?
Rugby league too, must respect its tradition.