'Follow the growth': calls for an Ipswich NRL team
IPSWICH'S case to host a second NRL team for southeast Queensland has been boosted by new figures showing the city will have an annual population growth of 176 per cent over the next 10 years compared with its average yearly growth in the past decade.
With proud Toowoomba boy Jonathon Thurston backing Ipswich for a second team, stating fans would "show up to the opening of an envelope” and a 20,000 seat stadium one step closer to fruition, Ipswich could host Brisbane's second NRL team.
The key figures of the 12 local government areas in southeast Queensland were released by leading housing market and residential property analyst Michael Matusik.
President of the Goodna Rugby League Football Club and former Ipswich deputy Mayor Paul Tully said the predictions proved the overwhelming strength of the Ipswich case.
He said the western corridor between Ipswich and Toowoomba was experiencing the highest rate of growth in Queensland and one of the highest in Australia.
"The NRL and Channel 9 would have rocks in their head if they don't follow the growth in the southeast corner,” he said.
"Ipswich has been at the forefront of this push for a second NRL team for almost a decade.
"The city is well-positioned to establish a major NRL training facility with games played at Suncorp Stadium to provide easy access for a new wave of supporters across southeast Queensland.”
Mr Tully said a Sydney team relocated to Ipswich or a completely new franchise would be a winner for rugby league, the Nine Network and the current 400,000 population in the western corridor.
"This will grow to a potential supporter base of well over half a million in the next 10 years,” he said.
NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg is three months away from tabling his code-wide report, and gave footy fans fresh hope last week when he revealed a second Brisbane team by 2023 was a "realistic” option.
The ARL Commission has identified Redcliffe as a candidate for another licence, but Thurston was adamant the NRL must go west to the region that produced Broncos greats Allan Langer and Kevin Walters.
"I'd base the second Brisbane team in Ipswich,” Thurston told Blindside.
"Queensland is ready for another NRL team, 100 per cent. Brisbane sports fans would show up to the opening of an envelope and they would especially get behind another NRL team.
"There's a lot of people that love the Broncos but there's also a lot of people in Brisbane who don't.
"Ipswich is an hour away from Toowoomba. The Bulldogs scouted me from Toowoomba and that region has a strong league following, plus you have the Logan area which could fall under the Ipswich banner if they got a team in.
"Having a second Brisbane team in Ipswich would definitely work.”
Redcliffe's population growth contrasts Ipswich's, showing an annual growth of only eight per cent over the past decade. Brisbane's figure is an estimated -35 per cent, Gold Coast 17 per cent and Logan 64 per cent.