Exclusive data from the 2019 Back to Belmore Special Survey reveals that Belmore Sports Ground still holds a special place in the hearts of Bulldogs voting members.
Conducted between 1 August and 31 August, over 100 rank-and-file members of the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Rugby League Club took part in the most comprehensive survey of its kind issuing an emphatic message about their spiritual home. The authoritative poll found that a whopping 78% of respondents said the venue should be upgraded to facilitate more premiership games in the long-term future.
The survey also found that almost 51% of members polled are dissatisfied with one NRL match scheduled at Belmore Sports Ground every year and despite barely meeting the NRL criteria, 58.3% of respondents want to see more than one premiership game per year at the historic facility in its current state.
Issues repeatedly raised by members in the optional feedback section of the survey included nearby street parking, seating, lighting, toilet amenities and corporate facilities. The Terry Lamb Family Hill on the eastern side of the famous footy venue was also a big issue with many respondents wanting a second grandstand built on the hill.
Back to Belmore Patron Luke Brailey welcomed the survey's results, and said the organisation was committed to working collaboratively with the Bulldogs to safeguard Belmore Sports Ground for future generations.
“To be honest, the results didn't surprise us too much,” Mr Brailey said, arguing that the issue came down to the fact that a large proportion of Bulldogs members still have a sentimental attachment to the iconic venue.
“The results of this survey are valuable to both Back to Belmore and the Bulldogs to enable us to create pathways for working together in the future to prepare a business case and lobby the State and Federal Governments for financial assistance to upgrade Belmore Sports Ground. If the survey results are extrapolated across the entire Bulldogs voting member base, it means that almost four in five members want to see the venue upgraded to accommodate more Bulldogs home games in the long-term future.”
Mr Brailey added that Belmore Sports Ground faced “major challenges” to meet the growing demand for more NRL premiership matches and welcomed recent comments made by ARLC Chairman-designate Peter V'landys about the importance and tribalism of suburban grounds but reiterated that the organisation would not use the survey results to pressure or demand the Bulldogs to stage more NRL games at Belmore.
“Back to Belmore is not and has never been empowered to dictate to the Bulldogs where they play their home games and any suggestion to the contrary is totally false. This issue falls way outside the organisation's purview. We don't presume to tell the Bulldogs board how to do its job. It is incumbent on Back to Belmore to respect the Bulldogs' decision-making process with regards to where they stage their NRL premiership games,” he said.
“The Bulldogs hierarchy is no doubt very conscious of member sentiment regarding Belmore Sports Ground and the issue does not need to be forced. We didn't force the previous board to stage more NRL games at Belmore and we have afforded this board the same courtesy and will continue to do so but there is so much more to Belmore Sports Ground than playing NRL matches. There is an innate embrace that people feel walking through the western entrance. Unfortunately, you cannot accommodate multiple sporting events at the present time without a significant upgrade. You cannot have a significant upgrade without a coherent business plan and you cannot have a coherent business plan until the primary occupant of the venue sits down with all key stakeholders with a genuine desire to achieve the same goal. Honestly, it all comes down to the business plan. It's that simple. Back to Belmore is deeply committed to working with the Bulldogs to launch a new business case for Belmore if they are ready and willing to do so.”
“The results from our exclusive survey speak for themselves. We needed to get as precise a cross section of the member base as we could. It is an adequate sample size – approximately 12% of all current and emerging voting members – that accurately reflects the diverse makeup of the members across all key demographics. The Bulldogs members that we polled have had their say and they have spoken very clearly about Belmore. We sincerely thank them for entrusting Back to Belmore with their thoughts and unfettered candour about this important issue. It is now up to the Bulldogs board and senior management as to how they wish to proceed. The matter is in their hands and they will be judged by their members accordingly.”
Vice President Steven Cataldi said the executive committee had been pleased with the survey results and working with the Bulldogs was a top priority for Back to Belmore.
“The results will certainly be used to guide our relationship with the Bulldogs going forward in the future,” Mr Cataldi said.
“These results are also critical in shaping the development of our 2020 masterplan and now we have an accurate snapshot of voter sentiment and an insight from the voting members of Belmore Sports Ground's primary occupant to ensure the best results for the venue in the long-term future. While many members have raised warranted concerns about the lack of parking and current amenities, the poll results are tangible evidence that Belmore Sports Ground must be futureproofed for the next generation of athletes.”
Community Relations & Operations Co-ordinator Chafic Mennah said the survey results were also a major win for the Canterbury-Bankstown district and the local economy, with significant benefits flowing to local businesses if the venue is significantly upgraded.
2019 BACK TO BELMORE SPECIAL SURVEY - BULLDOGS VOTING MEMBERS
Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the sole NRL game currently scheduled at Belmore Sports Ground?*
Should the Bulldogs stage more than one NRL game per year at Belmore Sports Ground in its current state?*
Do you believe that Belmore Sports Ground should be upgraded to facilitate more Bulldogs NRL games in the long-term future?^
Back to Belmore Inc. conducted a survey of randomly chosen eligible voting members of the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Rugby League Club. Interviews were conducted via survey link sent by email in August 2019. Survey links were sent to 227 voting members of which 110 responses were received. Member numbers were randomly selected for inclusion in the survey.
* 108 out of 110 respondents answered these questions.
^ 109 out of 110 respondents answered this question.