The Queensland government are in talks with rugby league bosses to wrest the NRL grand final away from Sydney and played interstate for the first time.
The refurbishment of ANZ Stadium, which has hosted every NRL decider since its construction for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, has opened the door for Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium as an alternate venue.
Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt, who is also the state’s sports minister, says there’s a “window of opportunity”, believed to be between 2018-2021, to lure the event north during renovations.
“I have had a brief discussion with some of the key people within the NRL – some senior executives – and I’m keen to pursue this,” Mr Pitt said.
Queensland’s push for the final comes after NSW Premier Mike Baird announced on Thursday his government would spend $1.6 billion to revamp the 83,500-seat ANZ Stadium, as well as 40,000-capacity Allianz Stadium.
NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg admitted the league would look at the possibility of shifting their showpiece event interstate if ANZ Stadium was unavailable.
The 52,500-seat Suncorp Stadium is currently regarded as the best rectangular sports stadium in Australia but the NSW government want ANZ Stadium to gain that mantle with the redevelopment, which would see grandstands moved closer to the field of play.
Mr Baird spruiked the NSW government’s stadium deal had secured content agreements with various football codes, including 20 years of NRL grand finals and State of Origin matches.
But Queensland’s acting premier, Jackie Trad, said that would not stop her state’s pursuit of the grand final.
“We’ll test that proposition I think,” she said.
Despite the 2015 grand final featuring two Queensland teams – Brisbane and North Queensland – the decider remained in Sydney, forcing thousands of supporters to travel south and contend with inflated flight and accommodation costs.