The Dyldam Parramatta Eels this week held the Eels Member Forum to take questions from the club's loyal Members.
Members joined key Members of the Eels management at the free forum, including Acting CEO John Boulous, Head of Football Operations Daniel Anderson, Head of Communications Joshua Drayton and Manager of Membership and Consumer Business Larissa Paegle.
Boulous and the management team took both pre-submitted and off-the-cuff questions from Eels Members, including these key issues:
NEW STADIUM FOR PARRAMATTA:
In 2015, it was announced that a new rectangular stadium would be constructed on the site of Pirtek Stadium in Parramatta, seating 30,000.
While plans for the Stadium are yet to be finalised, the club’s expectation is that games during the 2016 will not be affected by the plans to redevelop the Pirtek Stadium site. Acting CEO John Boulous confirmed that the Blue and Gold expects to play 9 matches at Pirtek Stadium during 2016, as well as 2 games at ANZ Stadium, and one at Darwin’s TIO Stadium.
On Parramatta: “This is our spiritual home”
Dealing with the prospect of playing more than 2 Premiership games during the 2017 and 2018 season at ANZ Stadium, Boulous confirmed that decisions for the coming seasons had not yet been made, and that consultation with Members would be crucial in the coming months.
“There are a whole range of benefits that come from playing in a big stadium for selected games,” Boulous said.
“We have in excess of 15,000 ticketed members and the Stadium (Pirtek Stadium), albeit outdated, offers a pretty good view for most seats. We are looking at ANZ Stadium as an option in the short term, but the challenge for us is making your experience better and that’s where we’ll continue engage with you.”
“Wherever that venue is, when you turn up you need to know that’s our home, that’s Blue and Gold. There aren’t many grounds that are going to cater for maintaining a strong, large membership base, and we also need to make sure that majority of our games remain within the region [of Western Sydney].”
“I can’t stand here and tell you we’ll go to the ground every Member wants to go to, but I can say we will listen to you to make sure we accommodate our Members and fans and we make the experience at every ground as best as we can for all of you.”
THE GOVERNANCE REVIEW AT PARRAMATTA:
The Parramatta National Rugby League has appointed PwC to undertake a governance review, which remains ongoing.
Acting CEO John Boulous provided an insight into the club’s approach to the review’s impending recommendations.
“It’s being done in very good faith,” Boulous said.
“And the club is viewng it as a very big positive. We can always improve the way we do things, so what this does is allow us to make sure we have best practice in the league.”
“PwC’s experience will help us do that, and become a club with sound and viable strategies that are driven by our board, implemented by management staff and continuing to adhere to sustainable policies.”
“We’ll receive the review soon and we’ll work through both the long term and short term recommendations, but ultimately we’re advocating for positive and strong change out of the process.”
DEVELOPMENTS IN THE PARRAMATTA LEAGUES CLUB PRECINCT:
The planned $100 million redevelopment of the precinct surrounding the Parramatta Leagues Club is set to commence in early 2016, beginning with the demolition of the existing Parramatta Eels football administration building to create an interim carpark.
Subsequently, the existing carpark will begin being redeveloped as part of the new entertainment precinct, including a 200 room hotel, fitness and aquatic centre, and ten pin bowling centre.
PARRAMATTA DISTRICT RUGBY LEAGUE:
The Parramatta District Rugby League was placed into liquidation as an entity during 2015, and John Boulous confirmed that at the Parramatta National Rugby League is working proactively to preserve the benefits of the former PDRL structure and incorporate them into the PNRL. Some of the benefits specifically mentioned in the course of the forum were Life Membership, badges and awards.
“The operations of the Parramatta District Rugby League already sit within the Parramatta National Rugby League, including junior league and junior representative sides, so that doesn’t change,” Boulous said.
“We want to honour the tradition of that in the PNRL as part of a vibrant club that incorporates our Junior League our Junior Representatives and our National Rugby League operations.”
In response to a question regarding second-rower Kenny Edwards, the club confirmed that Edwards encountered a disciplinary issue with the NRL in 2015.
Edwards' registration with the NRL is currently suspended, but still allows him to train with the club. Edwards is medically cleared for full training after undergoing a knee reconstruction, has observed all requirements during this time, and has worked diligently at fulfilling the necessary criteria to apply for his registration later this month.
Members also raised a range of topics for the club to consider over the coming season, and keep Members informed on, including:
- Increased game day branding around Pirtek Stadium for home games
- Improved game day parking
- The potential for free public transport with tickets and Membership
- Venue food quality and affordability: this is something the Eels will provide feedback on to the Stadium owners, but do not have full control over
- Improved comparable seating options between Pirtek Stadium and ANZ Stadium
- Access for Eels Members to Level 4 seating at ANZ Stadium (update: this should now be available in 2016)
- The prospect of integration of NSW Cup games into NRL game day
- The audibility of questions in official post-match press conferences
- The timeliness of team announcements, reliability of information from the club rather than external media
- Eels information and communication standards being benchmarked against international sporting teams
- Increased game day promotion and highlights of rivalries between teams in the lead up to games
- Game day access and security between different bays and sections of the Stadium. Members would like access to be available, but addequately managed by security staff.
- Any updates to the Eels official logo and jersey designs, including a potential 70th anniversary.