A capacity crowd of up to 12,000 die-hard league fans are expected to pack McDonald’s Park to see NRL grand finalist Canberra play Newcastle in a blockbuster round six clash on April 18, 2020.
The NRL premiership game is the second as part of a two-year partnership between Wagga Wagga City Council and the Raiders, with the option for a third year.
“I think this game is going to be great for the city. Both the Raiders and the Knights have strong supporter bases, and plenty of fans out in our region ready to mobilise behind their team, Mayor of the City of Wagga Wagga Councillor Greg Conkey OAM said.
The announcement the Knights will descend on Wagga Wagga brings forward the prospect of seeing a breakout superstar of 2019 in action.
“The potential addition of superstars like Kalyn Ponga and Mitchell Pearce is a huge bonus,” Councillor Conkey said.
“they’re the type of players that younger fans idolise … I think they’ll be a huge drawcard.”
Canberra Raiders CEO Don Furner said the club was also keen to return to the city.
“We play the Knights this year,” Mr Furner said. “That’s two regional clubs going out to Wagga.
“I know Council has spent a lot of money upgrading McDonald’s Park … we are looking forward to going back there.”
Those major upgrades are continuing at McDonald’s Park to cater to a monster NRL crowd in 2020.
“We are looking to increase, almost double, the seating,” Wagga Wagga Rugby League secretary Stephen Frankham said.
“We’re going to complete both ends of the western side and duplicate that seating on the other side of the ground as well. “That’ll provide us an additional 1200 seats.”
The works will also see the long-proposed southern hill loom large at the venue.
Outside the ground, improvements are also set to begin with Council approving a series of projects at Equex Centre at the 28 October Council Meeting – including to improve traffic flow and parking.
“We’re improving the road access at this particular ground,” Cr Conkey said. “We had some issues here in May, around people leaving the ground, so we’re looking to improve the road exits.
“We’re putting an exit out onto Kooringal Road. That will improve the way people are able to leave the ground.”
Council is also establishing a bridge over Marshall’s Creek to enable overflow parking.
The Saturday clash will kick off at 3pm with tickets set to go on sale in December.