The Melbourne Storm confirmed on Tuesday that they’ll take a “significant” step in growing rugby league in Victoria with the creation of a Rugby League State and Community Centre in Broadmeadows.
The facility will boast a female-friendly pavilion with high performance training and recovery facility, a show pitch and two training/competition pitches and administration facilities.
The $16.9 million project was made possible due to a $12 million investment by the State Government and contributions from the NRL, Melbourne Storm and City of Hume.
Storm CEO Justin Rodski told SEN’s Whateley that the facility will become the new home of rugby league in the state.
“It’s significant, it’s a generational outcome for rugby league in Victoria,” Rodski said.
“The facility will be the home of NRL Victoria, Touch Footy Victoria and all of our pathways, community programs, our women’s team and our Thunderbolt’s team (Storm under 18s and under 20s).
“From a Thunderbolts perspective they haven’t had a home, and they haven’t had anywhere to train.
“This gives them an elite facility and an elite place to go and train every week.
Rodski was asked if he felt the facility was the missing piece to grow rugby league in the state and ultimately help create a first-grade producing grassroots system.
“It is absolutely is,” he replied.
“It’s a significant outcome for rugby league in Victoria.
“When you think about grassroots to your elite level pathways and development programs, there just simply hasn’t been any infrastructure in place in Victoria.
“There’s well and truly an appetite for participation, so this gives us the opportunity to develop our fans and give them an ability to engage from a community perspective.
“This will be the home of rugby league in Victoria.”
The facility marks a change in the NRL’s philosophy with Rodski saying there was previously a lack of investment from the competition in the state.
The Storm hope that the facility is the first step increased investment from the league to help grow the game at a community level in Victoria.
“I have been surprised with the level of investment, or lack there of from the NRL in Victoria when it comes to community engagement and when it comes to grassroots rugby league in the state,” Rodski said.
“I think Victoria is a huge opportunity, and this facility which they (the NRL) have contributed to is a big step in our strategy and investment here.
“But we’ll keep lobbying and persisting with the NRL for them to increase their investment.”
While a lot of the club’s operations will be shifting to the new facility, Rodski confirmed that the Storm’s NRL side will remain based out of AAMI Park.
“Our home’s here at Olympic Park, at AAMI Park, our head office is here our home is here and we’ll play here,” Rodski said.
“That will continue, we’d like to think we’d be here for the long term.
“But, we will be heading out to facilities like the Rugby League State Centre to train and for community engagement and fan engagement opportunities.
“When we travel, for example we might do our captains run out there on the way to the airport.
“There’s a whole range of options for us, but we’ll certainly remain at AAMI Park for our home.”
The project is due to be completed in mid-2022 with construction beginning on Wednesday.