WE WANT TO COME BACK: RENEGADES
THE Melbourne Renegades have declared they will persist with the Big Bash League experiment in Geelong, despite below-par crowds in two matches at GMHBA Stadium.
Renegades chief executive Stuart Coventry said the franchise was eager to bring more games next year and beyond, but he stopped short of declaring any future venture a formality.
“We haven’t sat down and formally talked about it, but we think this is a really good growth market,” Coventry said in the wake of the Renegades’ 101run thrashing to Brisbane Heat.
“We’ve only played three games here, so we’re still early in our existence, but overall we’re happy with the result and we’ll seriously be looking at playing here again next year.”
When pressed about the likelihood of a return for BBL09, Coventry said it was too early to make a commitment.
“We have to sit down and go through it,” Coventry said. “We’re only halfway through our season right now, and there’s a lot of activity to happen now and the middle of February, so we’ll sit down with the (Kardinia Park Stadium) Trust and go through it.
“Just the general feedback from (City of Greater Geelong) councillors and government is this is a really good success story and Big Bash as a product fits in well at this venue. We feel like it’s a good plan for us in the future. It’s definitely worth persisting with, certainly.”
Cricket Australia is also open to bringing more matches to GMHBA Stadium in the future, with BBL boss Kim McConnie declaring the venture a success.
“Taking games back to Geelong this season has been a fantastic experience and represented the League positively,” McConnie said.
“We’re very happy with the results and have received great feedback from fans in Geelong. Part of our strategy is to help cricket be a sport for all Australians and part of this is growing our footprint across the country. “
“We hope Geelong can continue to be part of this strategy and will assess post-season when we start looking ahead to BBL09.”
Crowds were well down on expectations this summer, with 18,029 moving through the turnstiles for the Renegades’ clash against the Adelaide Strikers on January 3, almost 7000 short of the prematch target.
Coventry declared 20,000 a “pass mark” for game two against Brisbane Heat on Sunday, but only 16,008 attended.
“It’s still a good effort,” Coventry insisted.
“It’s a Sunday night and a lot of people are heading back from holidays. I think when you look at the two games — 18,000 and 16,000 — we’ve had 34,000 and we’d take that.
“We were probably a little bit aggressive in our forecasting of 20,000 because of the beautiful weather, but it’s still really good and we’re happy with it.”
The Renegades’ poor form against the Strikers, and the absence of hometown hero Aaron Finch, were strong contributing factors in the reduced crowds.
Coventry acknowledged that the expansion of the BBL, increasing each team’s matches to 14, and low attendances competition-wide also influenced numbers.
“Everyone expected some equilibrium because of the extra games, but we’re still happy with the numbers we’ve got,” Coventry said.
“We’re disappointed with the result (of the game), but that’s T20 cricket and we go to Sydney (tomorrow).”
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