The Courier-Mail

SOLD OUT

ORI­GIN SHOW­PIECE MAY HIT ROAD UN­DER NEW TV DEAL

- EX­CLU­SIVE PETER BADEL

RUGBY league’s heart­land is in dan­ger of los­ing Ori­gin games an­nu­ally as the code’s show­piece goes to auc­tion.

Af­ter the suc­cess of Ori­gin II in Mel­bourne this year, the con­cept is set for a do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional bid­ding war as the NRL lever­ages its com­mer­cial strength in the wake of Chan­nel 9’s record TV bid. The NRL last night con­firmed that Ori­gin, val­ued at $150 mil­lion in Nine’s rights pack­age, would be up for sale.

“We will be open to of­fers from cities want­ing to host Ori­gin – and we know Ori­gin has broad na­tional and in­ter­na­tional ap­peal,” an NRL spokesman said.

“Clearly, we are go­ing to take our game to the venues which of­fer the best ex­pe­ri­ence for our fans. That is why we are work­ing with gov­ern­ments in Queens­land and NSW to up­grade our main sta­di­ums and bring them up to world stan­dard.”

Ori­gin II this year de­liv­ered an $8 mil­lion bo­nanza, al­most as much as the games in NSW and Queens­land com­bined.

RUGBY league’s heart­land, Queens­land and NSW, is in dan­ger of los­ing Ori­gin games an­nu­ally as part of a mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar auc­tion of the NRL’s show­piece.

The Courier-Mail can re­veal Ori­gin is set for a do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional bid­ding war as the NRL lever­ages its com­mer­cial strength in the wake of Chan­nel 9’s record $925m TV rights bid.

Queens­land Rugby League chair­man Peter Bet­ros fears a neu­tral venue may be awarded an Ori­gin game ev­ery year af­ter the MCG’s stun­ning suc­cess with Game Two this year.

Bet­ros said rev­enue streams mean the prospect of Bris­bane and Syd­ney los­ing games is real.

“Af­ter this cur­rent deal, I be­lieve the Ori­gin games will be up for grabs,” he said.

“Syd­ney have so much trou­ble selling tick­ets at ANZ Sta­dium so there’s a pos­si­bil­ity that in the fu­ture we mightn’t get an op­tion to host two games in each state ev­ery sec­ond year.

“The op­tion might be to guar­an­tee each state one game and then take the third game to ten­der.”

Un­der cur­rent sched­ul­ing, Syd­ney will host two games next year be­fore Bris­bane hosts the dou­ble in 2017.

But the re­turn of Ori­gin to the MCG in 2018 could her­ald a new sched­ul­ing blue­print where Ori­gin is regularly sold off to ri­val bids from Perth and Auck­land.

The NRL last night con­firmed Ori­gin, val­ued at $150 mil­lion in Nine’s TV rights pack­age, would be up for sale on an an­nual ba­sis.

“We will be open to of­fers from cities want­ing to host Ori­gin – and we know Ori­gin has broad na­tional and in­ter­na­tional ap­peal,” an NRL spokesman said.

“Af­ter that (the com­ple­tion of the cur­rent sched­ule in 2018), we have a clean slate to de­ter­mine where fu­ture Ori­gin matches are held.

“Af­ter the suc­cess we had in Mel­bourne this year, with a crowd of more than 90,000, there is huge in­ter­est in stag­ing Ori­gin matches.

“Clearly, we are go­ing to take our game to the venues which of­fer the best ex­pe­ri­ence for our fans.

“That is why we are work­ing with gov­ern­ments in Queens­land and NSW to up­grade our main sta­di­ums and bring them up to world stan­dard.”

A record crowd (91,513) flocked to the MCG for Ori­gin II, with the event de­liv­er­ing an $8 mil­lion bo­nanza, al­most as much as the games com­bined in NSW and Queens­land.

It is un­der­stood the Ori­gin games this year at ANZ Sta­dium and Sun­corp Sta­dium gen­er­ated $9 mil­lion col­lec­tively.

Bet­ros said while the QRL would pre­fer two games were al­ways played in Queens­land and NSW, they un­der­stood the com­mer­cial re­al­i­ties.

He said the emer­gence of more state-of-the-art venues was putting pres­sure on the Queens­land and NSW gov­ern­ments to re­tain Ori­gin matches in rugby league’s heart­land.

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 ??  ?? HOME GROWN: Ma­roon Cameron Smith holds aloft the State of Ori­gin shield af­ter this year’s se­ries. Pic­ture: Adam Head
HOME GROWN: Ma­roon Cameron Smith holds aloft the State of Ori­gin shield af­ter this year’s se­ries. Pic­ture: Adam Head

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