“Build it and they will come”..I love that saying. It is the mantra of the out of town stadium designer, when trying to convince a club that selling their current character-filled stadium to a supermarket and moving to identikit soul-less arena on the edge of an industrial state is a good idea. But sometimes a change can be as good as a rest and everyone benefits.
London Broncos are at a watershed in their professional Super League lives. Last November it was announced that their “partnership” with Harlequins RFU was coming to an end and that they would revert back to the name they had carried since 1994. More worryingly was the indication that Harlequins would also want their tenants to vacate the Stoop in 2013. The Stoop in Twickenham was the Broncos sixth London based venue and they have struggled to light up the locals with a love for Rugby League. Last season you could almost guarantee a pair of tickets for each game via competitions in Metro and The Evening Standard.
This season, under their new old name they had again struggled to attract more than 3,000 for home games. With the Stoop needing to go through its end of Rugby Union season maintenance the Broncos announced they would take the game to new parts of the South East.
First up was a trip east to play at Leyton Orient’s Matchroom Stadium for the game versus Bradford Bulls where 2,844 fans came along – around about the average at the Stoop. Then they were going into the heart of Kent for the game versus Hull to be played at Gillingham FC’s Priestfield stadium.
This was not just a marketing exercise to woe the hearts and minds of the locals. This was also a “thank you” for the work done by the Medway Dragons in trying to spread the Rugby League word in the Garden of England. And of course any sports clubs trying to break virgin ground meant I had to be there. Continue reading