The Brumbies say they won’t move games away from Canberra Stadium. Photo: Melissa Adams Brumbies boss Michael Jones says the club is keeping home games in Canberra. Photo: Melissa Adams
ACT Brumbies boss Michael Jones says the club will resist any temptation to move games away from Canberra, declaring loyalty takes precedence over any rich offers to play home matches interstate.
But the Brumbies are investigating a mid-year fixture against a French club somewhere in Asia as well as the prospect of playing more games around the world in a bid to become a “global brand”.
The Brumbies are fighting against dwindling crowd numbers and just 7531 turned up in horrendous conditions on Saturday night as the Brumbies lost to the Melbourne Rebels 13-8.
It ended a run of 11 consecutive wins at Canberra Stadium, was the second lowest crowd since 1999 and overall averages have dropped by 2000 in the past three years.
The Brumbies are starting negotiations with the ACT government about extending their stadium deal, which expires at the end of the year and requires them to play all home games in Canberra.
There were rumours earlier this year about potentially moving some home games to ANZ Stadium, given the venue has about $2 million per season to spend after the NSW Waratahs abandoned western Sydney.
But Jones was defiant in his stance that all home games would remain in Canberra.
“I don’t believe in taking games away from Canberra, you’re crazy if you do that,” Jones said.
“It’s hard to build loyalty as it is, let alone when you take games away. It’s getting the wet fish out and slapping fans in the face.
“I don’t support that, I think we need to be true to our fans and supporters. This is our home and the value of home games cannot be under-estimated.”
Low crowds threaten to hit the Brumbies in the pocket as they revamp the game day experience to make being at the stadium more appealing than watching on television.
They cut ticket prices in half for a game against the Free State Cheetahs to combat the Easter weekend and a match involving a traditionally low-drawing South African team.
But the club is hopeful that an Anzac Day eve fixture against the Otago Highlanders and a blockbuster Australian derby against the NSW Waratahs on May 1 will bring fans back.
The Brumbies were looking to play a game in China after signing a six-year major sponsor deal with Aquis, and a French club has shown interest in meeting the Brumbies halfway for a friendly fixture.
The game would not affect the Brumbies’ Super Rugby home games in Canberra.
“It’s not in our psyche to take games away … we’re in a partnership with the ACT government,” Jones said.
“The ARU is looking at bringing a Wallabies Test here in the coming years and we’re looking to fill in the gaps with other revenue spinners.
“We’re talking to a number of other franchises about the possibility of taking games off-shore somewhere for cash … I want us to be a global team.
“We’re looking at locations in Asia with a French team and we’re really keen on that, they’ve contacted us and we’ll see how it comes up.”
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