By Brad Walter
May 21, 2010 - Sydney Morning Herald
CANTERBURY will announce today they are returning to their spiritual home at Belmore after the federal government committed $5 million to refurbish the ground.
The venue will become the permanent home ground of NSW Premier League football team Sydney Olympic, and the Bulldogs will relocate their training base and administrative headquarters to the venue. Canterbury may also play an annual pre-season fixture at Belmore.
With Canterbury's membership base now at 10,000 and growing, the upgraded Belmore Sports Ground will not be big enough to seat all of the club's season ticketholders so there is no chance of playing NRL matches there in the foreseeable future. However, junior representative matches will be played at the ground.
After playing and training at Belmore for 72 years, the club moved to Sydney Olympic Park in 2008 and was based at the Athletics Centre. More recently, the Bulldogs have been training at Wilson Park near Silverwater prison as part of a deal with the Sydney Olympic Park Authority.
The Bulldogs have an agreement to play home matches at nearby ANZ Stadium until 2015 but have been keen to shift their administrative and training base back to Belmore. Canterbury officials have been lobbying various governments for some time to obtain funding to upgrade the facilities at Belmore.
Bulldogs chief executive Todd Greenberg was last night unavailable for comment but the club announced a press conference would be held today at Belmore Sports Ground. Canterbury coach Kevin Moore will be joined by captain Andrew Ryan and senior players Luke Patten, David Stagg, Steve Turner, Michael Hodgson and Josh Morris for what the club described as a major announcement.
Sydney Olympic will also benefit from the funding grant as Belmore Sports Ground is the NSW Premier League club's home ground.
Meanwhile, Patten is expected to reject offers from England to remain at the Bulldogs next season.
The former Country Origin fullback has a clause in his contract enabling him to leave a year early if he wants to play Super League and Huddersfield are believed to be among the clubs to have expressed interest in Patten.
The Giants, who are also looking for a new coach after Nathan Brown last week announced he was returning to Australia at the end of the season, are seeking a new fullback after former Wests Tigers captain Brett Hodgson signed with rivals Warrington.
But the Herald understands that Patten intends to play out his career at the Bulldogs and is talking to the club about a role after he retires.