PREMIER AND LORD MAYOR ANNOUNCE RUGBY COUP FOR QUEENSLAND

Brisbane has secured ten Wallaby rugby tests over the next eight years in what is one of the most significant agreements ever entered into by the Australian Rugby Union.

Premier Beattie, who made the announcement today with Lord Mayor Campbell Newman and ARU CEO and Managing Director Gary Flowers, said the ten match package between 2007 and 2014 is a rugby coup for Queensland, which could pump upwards of $100 million into the State’s economy.

“This package includes three Bledisloe Cup Tests against the All Blacks to be played at Suncorp Stadium, which has been described by Captain George Gregan as the Wallabies’ favourite stadium,” Mr Beattie said.

“The first of the three Bledisloe Cup Tests will be played in 2008 with the remaining two expected in 2011 and 2014, subject to the potential extension of the South African New Zealand and Australian Rugby agreement.”

Mr Beattie said the remaining seven Wallabies Tests would be against leading rugby countries, with the guarantee of two test matches in both 2008 and 2009.

“Also as part of the agreement, I requested the ARU play international matches in regional cities such as Townsville and the Gold Coast,” he said.

“If there is support shown for these matches from local patrons, businesses and councils then I will work with the mayors in both cities to secure these additional games.

“I commend the Australian Rugby Union on its foresight to invest heavily in a “heartland” State, ensuring Queensland becomes a premium rugby market for the next eight years.”

Lord Mayor Campbell Newman said the return of the Wallabies and world-class rugby union to Brisbane on a regular basis was a big win for the city and surrounding region – and a real treat for sports enthusiasts and local business.

With significant economic benefits and international exposure for the city and region, Councillor Newman said he was delighted to work with the Premier and the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) to secure future games.

“Brisbane has played a major role in the development and promotion of rugby union in Queensland and throughout Australia, including producing some of Australia’s greatest players. It makes sense that international rugby union events, like Tri Nation and Bledisloe Cup games, should be played here,” Cr Newman said.

“Transport, accommodation, retail trade, personal services, business services, communication and recreation services sectors all stand to gain from these types of events coming to town. That’s not to mention the fact Brisbane will be seen by millions of television viewers around the world.”

Mr Beattie said July’s Bledisloe Cup Test generated about $17 million in economic impact for the State, while Brisbane Airport reported very heavy traffic – with all inner-city hotels booked out well in advance of the game.

“Based on 2006 dollars, the three Bledisloe Cup tests can be expected to contribute upwards of $50 million and the seven other tests a further $50 million, meaning a $100 million injection into the Queensland economy as a result of today’s announcement,” Mr Beattie said.

“If we hadn't turned Suncorp Stadium into the state-of-the-art venue it is today, we would not be attracting such high-class rugby blockbusters, it's as simple as that. And it should be remembered that the construction of the stadium was funded from a levy placed on poker machine operations - not from taxpayers.”

ARU CEO and Managing Director Gary Flowers said Queensland rugby fans deserved a fair slice of the Wallabies’ biggest test matches.

“One of the ARU’s biggest strategic objectives is to expand rugby nationally but at the same time we want to ensure the rugby heartland has the lion’s share of test matches.

“Queenslanders love their rugby and they love the Bledisloe Cup. They demonstrated that when they set a new crowd record at Suncorp Stadium this year.

“Queensland fans had to wait ten years between Bledisloe Cups, but now they will host it in 2008, and again 2011 and 2014, as well as other top quality test matches.”

Mr Beattie said popular international sporting events such as the Bledisloe Cup and other international rugby fixtures pump big bucks into several sectors of the Queensland economy as well as showing off Queensland to an international market.

“The flow-on effects of this investment are obvious. More than 500,000 fans will get to watch the cream of international rugby in Queensland while our local businesses and economy will benefit as a result of the increased number of visitors.

“Many millions more will see everything Queensland has to offer via the international broadcasting of these matches.

Mr Beattie congratulated everyone involved in securing the games for Queensland, including the Major Sports Facilities Authority, the management of Suncorp Stadium, Tourism Queensland, Brisbane City Council and Brisbane Marketing.

17 September 2006

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Lord Mayor’s Office: 0400 839 859 (Kate Winter)