“It’s coming home” were the cries of our English friends yesterday as the Euro 2020 Final reminded us of what sport in a region not halted by COVID feels like. It, in fact, did not come home due to Italy’s ice cool penalty shooters. But perhaps 2022 is the year for the Origin to ‘come home’ to NSW, bringing with it the fan opportunities along with the tourism support for our businesses and regions that are currently suffering the effects of harsh lockdowns across the state.
Our beloved Novacastrians have just heard the heavy news that they will no longer host game three of State of Origin this Wednesday. That may not seem like a big deal if you’re not a Rugby League fan, but spare a thought to all those restaurant and café owners, hotels and tourism operators who have just been dealt a heavy hand on such short notice.
This year as a result of COVID, for the first time in history Queensland will host all three games. Injecting millions of dollars into the Townsville, Brisbane and now Gold Coast CBDs in what would seem like a lifeline to a state that prides itself on tourism.
The rapid adaptability both the NRL and State Governments have demonstrated to work together and still produce these games shouldn’t go without praise. They could have scrapped the entire game, but instead, this Wednesday night they will pack out Carrara Stadium, resulting in a surge of commerce for Gold Coast business owners at a crucial time.
But if we are truly ‘all in this together’ then one would hope that our collective memory does not fade, and that Sydney should receive the two available games next year.
Currently, only game two has been confirmed which will take place in Perth. But with NSW losing their opportunity to accommodate their only home game this year and Queensland hosting all three this year, it would seem reasonable to argue for Sydney and Western Sydney to receive its fair share in a product that creates $100 million of revenue for the NRL.
The timing for Parramatta to host its first ever origin (game one) has never been clearer. Our nation’s next state of the art airport is looming closer and Bank West is of a world class standard.
Then for game three, we witness a blockbuster game three in the beating heart of our economy.
It won’t solve our problem by any stretch, but with Sydney currently coping one billion dollars worth of revenue loss per week in lockdown, now is the time to start the conversation on Sydney hosting two origin games in 2022.
This time next year let’s make sure ‘it’s coming home’.