COMMUNITY TEAM: Western Corridor bid chairman Steve Johnson wants the community to own an Ipswich-based NRL side.
COMMUNITY TEAM: Western Corridor bid chairman Steve Johnson wants the community to own an Ipswich-based NRL side. Sarah Harvey

Ipswich community will own NRL footy team

THE IPSWICH public will have the chance to be true owners of the Western Corridor NRL bid if it wins admission to an expanded competition.

Bid boss Steve Johnson highlighted three ways funds could be raised in the start-up year after being granted a licence - through advance sponsorship, share sales to the public or from a benefactor.

As a community-owned club, the bid has a plan to initially raise $2 million by selling 2000 shares valued at $1000 each to the general public.

"If we got our licence I have always said we would need $2.25 million to start up," Mr Johnson said.

"In the year after you get your licence you will employ your coach, your CEO and start doing business.

"That is when the interest is really heightened, in the establishment year.

"You look at the Cowboys, Broncos and Crushers when they came in, and more recently the Titans, there was a lot of excitement in that first year.

"You can capitalise on that, and because we are a community-based club we will be able to sell shares to the public who become true owners. You would sell 2000 shares easily.

"The demographic of rugby league has been researched and surveyed, and it clearly shows the people of Ipswich are more likely to become members of a rugby league club and attend matches than any other suburb in south-east Queensland."

The Western Corridor bid had a lucrative sponsorship deal in place with a global company, with interests in Ipswich, on the basis that expansion would have happened in 2015.

The company has indicated it will revisit the deal whenever expansion is called.

Mr Johnson said the Western Corridor bid was designed to enhance the welfare of its young players. He said within the bid's catchment were 10,450 juniors, making it the biggest junior base in the game.

"We are rugby league heartland in Ipswich, and as a rugby league community we became tired of seeing our kids being taken away from their families at too young an age to try and succeed in rugby league," he said.

"That wasn't, in our opinion, the best pathway for them. When there were discussions in the NRL about expanding the game, it appealed to us that we had everything the game needed in terms of the biggest junior base in rugby league, the best supporters in rugby league and a great business environment that would help support a rugby league club.

"Our model is not for profit, where every cent goes back into rugby league, and not one cent goes back into private pockets.

"No one will profit from the hard work of our hundreds of volunteers.

"Our bid gets Toowoomba back in the Intrust Super Cup where it belongs and we put rugby league back in the Darling Downs where the AFL is making huge inroads.

"We need 15,000 bums on seats at Suncorp Stadium and the forecast is that we will get that easily.

"Our model was always that we would be based in Ipswich, but that we had the best rugby league stadium in the world a short train ride away on a direct line.

"We would play out of Suncorp Stadium until the further growth in the Western Corridor occurred and the purpose built stadium that is intended as part of the strategic plan for Queensland was built in Ripley Valley."

The Ipswich-based bid is one of four Queensland based bids including Central Queensland, the Brisbane Bombers and Brothers.



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