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Western Melbourne - NRL Expansion (2nd Victorian Team)

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42
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Western Melbourne is one of the fastest growing regions in Australia with a large and diverse population, which presents a potential untapped market for the NRL. An expansion team could attract new fans and help grow the game in this region. According to the 2021-22 ABS census, the population of Western Melbourne's LGA (including Brimbank and Melton) is estimated to be over 1.1+ million for the metropolitan region alone. Including Greater Geelong and Ballarat, the market size increases to over 1.5 million. This would rank Western Melbourne 5th-6th in the NRL by population/market size.

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- The addition of a 2nd Victorian NRL team creates a new rivalry in Australian sports. A Western Melbourne-Victoria based team would form a blockbuster cross-city derby with the Melbourne Storm - between Melbourne's west and Melbourne's south-east.

- Junior numbers for rugby league in Victoria are at a record-breaking high in 2023, with over 4,400+ juniors signed up and counting - up 50% since 2019! As the game continues to grow at grassroots level, a 2nd Victorian NRL team would help accelerate that growth and provide more funding and resources for junior clubs. It also opens up more pathways and opportunities for young kids aspiring to play in the NRL.

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- Many NRL players have played and developed in the Victorian junior ranks, particularly with western-based clubs, including Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, Zev John, Ben Nakubuwai (Altona Roosters), Dean Ieremaia, Sione Finau, Haele Finau, Fonua Pole (Sunbury United) and Greg Marzhew (North West Wolves). Other greats such as Gareth Widdop and Jeremy Smith have also had stints with western junior clubs.

- A potential Western Melbourne NRL side could look at a variety of options for stadiums, including the ideal destination of Wyndham City Stadium (Tarneit) which is located in the heart of Melbourne's western suburbs. Scheduled for completion in 2026, the 15,000-capacity multisport stadium is being developed as part of the 'Wyndham Stadium Precinct' which includes a 63-hectare world class sport, entertainment, business and residential precinct. GMHBA Stadium in Geelong or Mars Stadium/Moreshead Park in Ballarat are other options. Otherwise, Marvel Stadium and AAMI Park are alternate options located in Melbourne's CBD.


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- NRL boss Peter V'Landys has talked about plans to expand the NRL competition to 20 teams by 2032. While we support the growth of the game nationally and expanding into other regions like Perth, a 2nd NZ team etc a 2nd Victorian NRL team would also have logistical and financial advtanges compared to other major cities i.e. travel costs and distance.

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- With the strong kiwi/Māori and Pasifika demographic in Melbourne's west, the potential to tap into this market could help open up a whole new fanbase. As demonstrated by the Samoan/Pasifika parades last year during the RLWC - particular in Melbourne's west, with areas such as Caroline Springs, Melton, Altona etc seeing unprecedented numbers of fans and scenes encapsulating the passion of Pasifika rugby league fans.

- Another potential rivalry could be on the cards with the New Zealand Warriors. With the annual ANZAC Day clash against the Storm being a popular fixture with Warriors supporters, the possibility of two away games in Melbourne could also be an ideal proposition for the NRL.

+ POINTS OF SUMMARY

- Western Melbourne's large market, rapid population growth and increasing popularity of rugby league in Victoria
- Unique potential for a Melbourne derby rivalry and strong Pasifika demographic
- Stadium in Tarneit provides unique opportunity for team to play at marquee venue in Melbourne's western suburbs - a feat the AFL has not yet acheived
- Comparatively strong data and analysis in favour of Western Melbourne compared to other major cities in talks for expansion
- Potential drawbacks and challenges in expansion to other cities


FAQ
Q. Why Western Melbourne?

A.
Western Melbourne is one of the fastest growing regions in Australia. With a total population of 1.5 million people including Geelong and Ballarat, Melbourne's west is also home to the fastest growing region in Australia!

Wyndham in Victoria (region of Wyndham City Stadium in Tarneit) was Australia’s fastest growing region over the past three years, with an additional 34,500 to its population between 2019-2022 for a December estimate of 308,900 residents. In addition, among the top 10 fastest growing Australian regions for 2019-2022 was Melton (Vic) ranked #3 in the nation - located in Melbourne's west.

Q. A 2nd Victorian team - especially out West - would struggle like Western United.

A.
Comparing this idea to Western United is pretty much apples and oranges, especially without context. The A-League's popularity has dwindled considerably in recent years, much like Super Rugby. At the height of its peak, the old Victory v Heart derby in the A-League drew crowds of 50k+ without any real geographical incentive behind it. Given that WUFC were introduced with two other established teams in the same market at a time when the A-League was in rapid decline (and still is) without the stadium yet built - it gives us models to learn from.

On the other hand, the NRL finds itself growing in popularity which is evident in the 50% growth of rugby league juniors in Victoria in just one year! Add that with a growing population and the potential to tap into the large Pasifika demographic out west - as well as the possibility to take regional and trial games to Geelong and Ballarat, further expanding the NRL's reach into Victoria.

Q. How can a Western Melbourne expansion NRL team compete in AFL heartland?

A.
Given the population boom of Melbourne's west combined with the significant growth of junior rugby league in Victoria and the strong, increasing Pasifika demographic, data suggests that rugby league in Victoria will continue to soar in popularity at a rapid-rate.

With the geographical and cultural divide between Melbourne's west and Melbourne's south-east, the emphasis on a Melbourne derby against the Storm offers a unique, blockbuster rivalry in Australian sport like no other. It also innovates the 'tribalism' aspect that's prevalent in Melbourne sporting culture.

With the strong kiwi, Māori and Pasifika demographic and NZ-expats, you also add the prospect of two away games in Melbourne for the NZ Warriors; a popular fixture in Melbourne with the annual ANZAC Day clash between the Storm and Warriors consistently drawing crowds of 20,000+.

The most unique and distinctive feat about a potential NRL team in Melbourne's west is dependent on completion of the stadium in Tarneit. No professional sports team in Melbourne actually plays out of a marquee stadium in Melbourne's western suburbs. Essendon & WB play their home games in Melbourne's CBD, with the Bulldogs taking the odd regional games to Ballarat. Geelong, while part of the Western corridor market, is much further out from the suburbs. This is why the stadium being built is key to this concept developing. The NRL could potentially have a chance to land a huge strike in AFL heartland and bring a team out west that actually plays out west - something the AFL has not yet acheived. The stadium's centralized location in the heart of Melbourne's west along with the millions being invested into the sports entertainment precinct is vital to this idea coming to fruition.

Q. Why should a 2nd NRL team in Victoria even be considered? Especially against other cities like Perth, Adelaide, NZ2 etc?

A.
From an outsider's perspective, I understand why people would not even give us a second thought and look at us as a viable option. However once you do your due dilligence and analyze the data, look at the facts and compare us to other major cities in expansion talks given the standards of criteria like market size, junior numbers and grassroots participation, logistics, TV household #, along with other factors like average median household income, infrastructure, projected growth of populations etc we definitely tick a lot of boxes the NRL would be looking at. There are pros (and cons) of any expansion team, however I believe the pro's are definitely in our favour. Maybe more than what some may think.

Of course we want the game to expand nationally, but you have to look into every option and analyze how practical it is; how it benefits the growth of the game and the NRL product, the risk/reward factor and ultimately the evidential data to back it all up. For example, many fans favour the idea of a PNG team or a Pasifika-based team. On paper, it sounds great. When you look at it from the NRL's perspective taking said criteria above into consideration, it's perhaps more detrimental than beneficial.


#WESTMELBNRL

** NOTE: We are not affiliated with the NRL, NRL Victoria, the Melbourne Storm and or any other commercial entities. This is an independent fanpage supporting & promoting a 2nd NRL team in Victoria for expansion. Any content used within are property of their respective owners, and are used in accordance subject to copyright under 'fair use'.
 
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ash the bash

Juniors
Messages
1,089
Good interesting thread,

I would go another direction....

Would ignore trying to do anything with Western United, their future stadium is in the middle of nowhere and does not at present have a rail station too. One road in that's almost a dirt track.

I would be actually looking at somewhere in SE Melbourne, potentially where team 11 A league bid was proposing. Don't know it off top my head but somewhere around Casey fields? A 20K stadium right next to a rail line in the burbs was what they were proposing.

Out of curiosity what area's in Melbourne have the most Pasifika/Maori people? If anyone knows would be interested to know.
 
Messages
42
Good interesting thread,

I would go another direction....

Would ignore trying to do anything with Western United, their future stadium is in the middle of nowhere and does not at present have a rail station too. One road in that's almost a dirt track.

I would be actually looking at somewhere in SE Melbourne, potentially where team 11 A league bid was proposing. Don't know it off top my head but somewhere around Casey fields? A 20K stadium right next to a rail line in the burbs was what they were proposing.

Out of curiosity what area's in Melbourne have the most Pasifika/Maori people? If anyone knows would be interested to know.
The stadium in Tarneit is scheduled to be completed in 2026, which would give a potential Western Melbourne team 2 and a half years to prepare and liaise with the respective club, local council and commercial partners - in co-operation with the NRL. The 5,000-capacity regional training field is on-track to be ready by Oct. 2023 with Western United set to play fixtures there later this year. Given the plans to build it into a world-class sports, entertainment and residential precinct within the next few years I believe it definitely gives us grounds to be looked at.

The Melbourne Storm have always preferenced their involvement and resources into the south-eastern suburbs given that the population of Melbourne's western corrdior was always relatively low compared geographically. In the past few years however, a population boom in Melbourne's west has become prevalent with many new estates and suburbs being built. The other issue with building a new stadium in the south-east is securing the funding, contracts and approval to build it, which is another advantange for a Western Melbourne team.

As for the Maori/Pasifika demographics, according to the 2021 ABS census almost 20,000 people in Melbourne's west were born in NZ and over 36,000 have identified Maori, Pasifika and or Oceanian heritage (i.e. Melanesia): According to Wikipedia, the main suburbs (including all Melbourne metro region) for specific demographics are:
  • Maori with Tarneit, Truganina, Point Cook, Cranbourne, Hampton Park and Carrum Downs
  • Samoans with Tarneit, Hampton Park, Cranbourne, Craigieburn, Melton, Broadmeadows and St Albans
  • Fijian with Berwick, Cranbourne and Hampton Park
    * Other demographics like Tongan, Cook Islands etc to be added.
 
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ash the bash

Juniors
Messages
1,089
The stadium in Tarneit is scheduled to be completed in 2026, which would give a potential Western Melbourne team 2 and a half years to prepare and liaise with the respective club, local council and commercial partners - in co-operation with the NRL. The 5,000-capacity regional training field is on-track to be ready by Oct. 2023 with Western United set to play fixtures there later this year. Given the plans to build it into a world-class sports, entertainment and residential precinct within the next few years I believe it definitely gives us grounds to be looked at.

The Melbourne Storm have always preferenced their involvement and resources into the south-eastern suburbs given that the population of Melbourne's western corrdior was always relatively low compared geographically. In the past few years however, a population boom in Melbourne's west has become prevalent with many new estates and suburbs being built. The other issue with building a new stadium in the south-east is securing the funding, contracts and approval to build it, which is another advantange for a Western Melbourne team.

As for the Maori/Pasifika demographics, according to the 2021 ABS census almost 20,000 people in Melbourne's west were born in NZ and over 36,000 have identified Maori, Pasifika and or Oceanian heritage (i.e. Melanesia): According to Wikipedia, the main suburbs (including all Melbourne metro region) for specific demographics are:
  • Maori with Tarneit, Truganina, Point Cook, Cranbourne, Hampton Park and Carrum Downs
  • Samoans with Tarneit, Hampton Park, Cranbourne, Craigieburn, Melton, Broadmeadows and St Albans
  • Fijian with Berwick, Cranbourne and Hampton Park
    * Other demographics like Tongan, Cook Islands etc to be added.

Thanks, awesome reply..
Still not fully onboard with the location of WU's stadium. Also I recall reading sometime that they would make it a soccer/WU only ground. Mind you when push comes to shove that will probably change.
Still would prefer another location for a home ground.
 

Perth Red

Post Whore
Messages
66,655
We're just happy to be thought about lol we'll happily take a 19th or 20th license :)
The question is does melbourne have the fanbase and corporate support to sustain two nrl clubs within the next decade? I think we know the answer. Unless NRL are willing to invest GWS level of financial support for many years to melbourne2 it’s hard to see how it would work.
 
Messages
42
The question is does melbourne have the fanbase and corporate support to sustain two nrl clubs within the next decade? I think we know the answer. Unless NRL are willing to invest GWS level of financial support for many years to melbourne2 it’s hard to see how it would work.
Being a rugby league diehard (Storm) from Melbourne's west, I personally believe people haven't looked into us enough. Population wise, Melbourne's west is growing rapidly and the stadium to be built would be upside looking at it from the NRL's perspective. If you know the demographic of our region and the population growth of Melbourne's western corridor, there are a lot of positives when considering us. The game has also sky-rocketed at junior levels recently - up 50% from last year at 4,400+ and growing. You add a Melbourne derby and the possibility of two away games in Melbourne for the Warriors, those are guaranteed blockbuster clashes. Particularly given the demographic of kiwis, Maoris and Pasifika in Melbourne - especially the West.

Yes it's more than likely a Melb2 team would need some assistance from the NRL as well as signifcant financial backing from coporate sponsorship - but I definitely don't think it's outside the realm of possibility to get it done.
 

Perth Red

Post Whore
Messages
66,655
Being a rugby league diehard (Storm) from Melbourne's west, I personally believe people haven't looked into us enough. Population wise, Melbourne's west is growing rapidly and the stadium to be built would be upside looking at it from the NRL's perspective. If you know the demographic of our region and the population growth of Melbourne's western corridor, there are a lot of positives when considering us. The game has also sky-rocketed at junior levels recently - up 50% from last year at 4,400+ and growing. You add a Melbourne derby and the possibility of two away games in Melbourne for the Warriors, those are guaranteed blockbuster clashes. Particularly given the demographic of kiwis, Maoris and Pasifika in Melbourne - especially the West.

Yes it's more than likely a Melb2 team would need some assistance from the NRL as well as signifcant financial backing from coporate sponsorship - but I definitely don't think it's outside the realm of possibility to get it done.
I could certainly see it down the track but Im not sure Storm are strong enough to start to split the fans and corporates and for me the NRl would be better served bringing in new fanbases and sponsors than diluting existing ones.
Perth, Adelaide and possibly Wellington would all be ahead for that reason imo.
 
Messages
42
I could certainly see it down the track but Im not sure Storm are strong enough to start to split the fans and corporates and for me the NRl would be better served bringing in new fanbases and sponsors than diluting existing ones.
Perth, Adelaide and possibly Wellington would all be ahead for that reason imo.
If a potential Western Melbourne team can find a way to tap into its strong Pasifika market, it could open up a whole fanbase. Using the Samoan parades for the RLWC last year as an example, there were thousands of Samoan & Pasifika fans rallying every weekend in Melbourne - particularly out West! Areas like Altona, Caroline Springs, Melton, etc saw unprecedented numbers of support.

 

Pneuma

First Grade
Messages
5,475
If a potential Western Melbourne team can find a way to tap into its strong Pasifika market, it could open up a whole fanbase. Using the Samoan parades for the RLWC last year as an example, there were thousands of Samoan & Pasifika fans rallying every weekend in Melbourne - particularly out West! Areas like Altona, Caroline Springs, Melton, etc saw unprecedented numbers of support.

Playing numbers have gone through the roof and plenty of potential for more. I’ve got an nrl vic discussion going on here.
 

jim_57

Moderator
Staff member
Messages
4,377
I could certainly see it down the track but Im not sure Storm are strong enough to start to split the fans and corporates and for me the NRl would be better served bringing in new fanbases and sponsors than diluting existing ones.
Perth, Adelaide and possibly Wellington would all be ahead for that reason imo.

Storm are a long long way from their ceiling. Even if they were consistently selling out AAMI there would be an argument that pushing for a 40-50k upgrade of AAMI would be a better option than throwing a second side in there.

In saying that Melbourne 2 is a better option than some that have been pushed on here or by the media.

Perth, Adelaide, Christchurch, Wellington & Western Brisbane ahead at this stage but I wouldn’t rule out Melbourne 2 in the medium-long term.
 
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