10,000 fans in July: Bold plan to bring crowds back
BRISBANE chief executive Paul White has revealed plans to have up to 10,000 Broncos fans at games by July after the Queensland government yesterday opened Suncorp Stadium to NRL supporters.
The NRL crowd lockout is coming to an end with the Queensland government to allow 2000 fans to attend the Titans-Dragons clash at Suncorp on Saturday as COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease.
Now Brisbane fans will get a slice of the action, with White ramping-up talks with the Queensland government to have select club members cleared to attend the Broncos-Titans derby at Suncorp on Saturday week.
The round seven clash will be the first time Broncos fans will be permitted to attend an NRL fixture this season.
And White is hopeful between 5,000 and 10,000 supporters will be granted entry for Brisbane's round nine clash against the Bulldogs at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday, July 11.
Speaking exclusively to The Courier-Mail last night, White confirmed he will look to co-ordinate a stadium plan with the Queensland government for incremental increases that could see 10,000 fans at Suncorp by next month.
"I'm pleased to say we are verging on bringing Broncos fans back into Suncorp Stadium," White said.
"My focus now is about working with the State government, the NRL and our stadium managers to get crowds back into Suncorp.
"We are confident we will get more crowds (than 2000 people) in the next few weeks.
"The Titans play a home game this week. We play the Titans the following week and we plan to have Broncos fans at Suncorp for that game.
"Ultimately, we will have to start with a crowd that's manageable and we have to be acutely aware of the COVID-19 restrictions we have to put in place to meet full compliance.
"The game has done that well and we have done that well as a club.
"Within the next few weeks we will see Broncos fans back at Suncorp and that is a huge win for the code and our club."
Asked if 10,000 fans will be able to attend the Bulldogs clash, White said: "We will be guided by the government's advice but, yes, hopefully we will get to that figure within a month.
"We have been in constant talks with the government right through this process and government have been very enabling with getting us back on the field.
"I will be proactive in our discussions to highlight that we believe we can manage more crowds based on the limited community transmissions and businesses starting to open up a bit more.
"A lot will depend on what happens this weekend. The Titans will have the ability to bring people into the ground this weekend and it will be a staged process, hopefully we can advance on that the following week.
"As Broncos CEO, it would be great to see the Brisbane fans back. I know we aren't an island in rugby league through this COVID saga but the fact Peter V'landys (ARL Commission boss) and the NRL have led the game back first, it has given other sectors confidence that rugby league is getting back to normal.
"I can't wait to see Broncos fans back out there again cheering on their team."
Suncorp Stadium chiefs last month began investigating social-distancing measures for crowds of up to 15,000 for the State of Origin clash between Queensland and NSW at the venue in November.
Suncorp Stadium boss Alan Graham says increased crowd sizes in the coming weeks and months hinge on health-and-safety compliance from the general public.
"These (COVID-19) measures have been put in place to make the event and venue as safe as it can be for everyone. It will only work if everyone plays their part," he said.
"We're looking for everyone to cooperate with social distancing, stay in their zones, only sitting in the seat allocated to them and taking on some responsibility if they have been feeling unwell, showing symptoms or been in contact with someone who has to make that conscious decision to not come.
"We are trying to get some buy-in from the public because it can only work if everyone is on the same page and plays their part.
"This is an appeal for people to be aware that things will be different, but only for everyone's safety. If we do that, it makes it as safe as it possibly can, people can have enjoyment and we can continue to have crowds at games instead of going back the other way."
Originally published as 10,000 fans in July: Bold plan to bring crowds back