Benny Elias in $200m deal to save Balmain Leagues Club

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Benny Elias in $200m deal to save Balmain Leagues Club
By Ray Chesterton and Dean Ritchie From: The Daily Telegraph August 27, 2009 6:49AM

BALMAIN'S favourite son Benny Elias has saved his greatest contribution to the club until his retirement.

The former Test hooker has formed a consortium to guarantee $200million to save the leagues club from going bankrupt.

Balmain Leagues Club members will vote tonight on whether to accept the proposal, which is packed with incentives to facilitate the transition.

``Really there is no alternative,'' Elias, a board member of Balmain, said. ``The only option if the proposal is voted down is to close the leagues club doors.''

The deal, which also includes long-term financing for the Balmain component of the Wests Tigers NRL merger, allows the consortium to take over the massive reconstruction of the club property on Victoria Rd at Rozelle.

In exchange for selling the leagues club, members will get two temporary venues, possibly at Flemington Markets and one closer to the city, for five years while the reconstruction of the present site is completed. When completed, members will be presented with a new leagues club that is debt-free.

Elias said the consortium would also provide the $4.5million-a-year for three years to meet its commitments.

Until Elias's consortium emerged, the future of Balmain League Club was dire. It was slowly dying from monthly losses of about $100,000 with no relief in sight.

Smoking laws, changed trading hours and the nearby casino all affected the club's trading. Negotiations with major development firms, including Mirvac, Leightons and Walker, were all thwarted by the economic recession.

``We looked like going ahead with the Reed Property Group but it was 40 per cent owned by Lehmans, which was hit by the recession,'' Elias said. ``That was the end of that. The situation became desperate.''

The proposed redevelopment is one of the biggest attempted in Sydney. It will be 12 storeys with room for commercial, residential and commerce outlets.

It will be built around a massive open plaza and will benefit from the passing traffic of passengers arriving on the metro station, which will be close to the club.

Elias said he was proud to be contributing to a project that was so close to his heart.

A veteran of 234 first grade games for the Tigers and kangaroo tours in 1986 and 1990, he said saving Balmain became a major part of his life and he watch the leagues club2s lingering death.

``We hope to start the project in the new year,22 he said.

``The D.A will be submitted next week.22

He said Leichhardt Oval, once ambivalent to the redevelopment, was now totally supportive and appreciated that more than 1000 jobs would be created.

``There has been a lot of emotion involved,22 he said.

``I was lucky to find someone like Ian Wright to be involved. He has been a life-saver.''

Paul Sironen, a Balmain and Wests Tigers director, said the Leagues Club was losing close to $100,000 a month.

``Benny's consortium has been like a white knight,'' Sironen said.

``Unless they take over, we will be very close to shutting the doors. We are going broke.

``If we want to be around for the next 100 years, then members must vote in favour.

``Either that or we shut the front doors and it's all over.

``This club has a lot of tradition.''

Former Balmain champion Steve Roach also urged members to vote for the proposal.

``The only other option is the bad option,'' Roach said last night.

``We need to survive and we need to keep 100 years of tradition going.

``I think the members should vote for it…100 per cent. The Tigers have to live on.''
 

innsaneink

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Good on him.

Dont quite get this bit though:

He said Leichhardt Oval, once ambivalent to the redevelopment, was now totally supportive and appreciated that more than 1000 jobs would be created.
 

system

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Probably were meant to type Council instead of oval.

Journalism aint what it used to be
 

innsaneink

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@smeghead said:
Probably were meant to type Council instead of oval.

<big>Journalism aint what it used to be</big>

LOL…tell me bout it, not three minutes ago they reported on 2KY news he was saving the _Wests Tigers_ leagues club
 

quintus

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I didn't realize the club was in such strife. Good on you Benny and associates. Leichhardt Council should hang their head in shame for being a stumbling block for any proposal that the club has put forward over the years.
 

TigersFan4Life

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@smeghead said:
Probably were meant to type Council instead of oval.

Journalism aint what it used to be

I love the trio of 22s that pop up towards the end of the article. Maybe the journalist was having flashbacks to when the field used to have the 22-metre line?
 

senexx

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I assumed an old keyboard where the " used to be stored on Shift+2
 

Chunk

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LOL…tell me bout it, not three minutes ago they reported on 2KY news he was saving the _Wests Tigers_ leagues club

May as well be :wink:
 

Geo

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Let's hope it comes off…..Otherwise no more joint venture....

How come Wests Ashfield or Wests Campbelltown can't tip more money in anyway....Hell we might be able to buy another Prop then???
 

Balmain_Bug

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Because its 50/50.
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Hey!!! how much coin is Benny gonna profit from this private venture ??

Me says, Plenty.
 
B

Bashir

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Benny has been doing this deal for probably 2 years now. Bug if you can remember when this first started I sent you a PM, I am sure Benny is profiting from it in much the same way. But money is definately not his only motive, he has made much more money after football in much simpler ways.
 

clontarfkid

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Appreciate Bennys "generousity",but no-one knows what the site is worth & it should have gone out to an arms length tender like any other similiar business proposition of this magnitude
 

Muffstar

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@balmain1 said:
Good on Benny..He is a successful businessman. We need more like him :smiley:

He is, very loyal Tiger as they all were during the 80's and early 90's, now maybe he can help find a goos sponsor for the Wests Tigers !
 

system

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@clontarfkid said:
Appreciate Bennys "generousity",but no-one knows what the site is worth & it should have gone out to an arms length tender like any other similiar business proposition of this magnitude

I would agree with that.

However there is also an element dealing with Leichhardt Council of knowing how and which wheels to grease which Benny is very skilled at. Trodden would not allow a deal which damaged the club
 

Torbizlo

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it does not matter how much money benny will make from this. the fact that he is rescuing the balmain club and the history behind it is priceless.
 

angeman

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members overwhelmingly voted in favour of the proposal at tonight's meeting. a bit fiery as well!
 
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