Play more games here Wests Tigers, if you want more support
March 28, 2013, 3:48 p.m.
There was a bit of talk this week in the non-sport section of the papers about whether westies on a quarter of a million dollars a year were rich, poor or thereabouts.
That old westie, Mark Latham jumped all over the story, saying that on that sort of money and living in the golden west was the equivalent of being in paradise. And being alive at the same time, as opposed to having died and gone to heaven.
What’s all that got to do with sport? Well, plenty, sport. Just ask the Wests Tigers who were left scratching their heads when fewer than 10,000 fans turned up for their round two clash with the Penrith Panthers a couple of weeks ago.
I was there at the game, and I must admit that as a local Campbelltown resident I copped a ribbing from the rest of the guests in the corporate box in the eastern stand. Where’s the fans, Ekka, they asked me? Well, I tried to fudge it: warm day, they have gone to the beach an the rest of them and their families are involved in the local cricket grand finals, was my first response.
But when I finally had done a bit of thinking as I chewed a couple of large tiger prawns, I told them the real reason was financial. It’s just too expensive for a family to go to the footy, even if that family is bringing in two wages.
I got a few nods with that excuse, so I expanded on it by saying that people may have had jobs, but with the way the economy is going they weren’t sure for how much longer they would have these jobs. In fact earlier that week close to 100 local were told they would be out of work because the plant was closing.
So, it’s all about job security, the lack of it that is. Local people are putting their hard earned away for a rainy day and going to the footy is an unaffordable luxury for many.
There was a bit of this trend emerging last year at Campbelltown, and it looks like it’s going to continue this season, unless the Wests Tigers really take this reality into consideration when setting ticket and package prices for the last three matches here.
Which brings me to the other reason there’s been a decline in the number of hard core Wests Tigers — those who attend local matches — for years we got three matches a season and now four, so fans’ attention just drifts off, and they find something else to do with their time. And by the time they find out the Tigers are returning for a match they have already organised to do something else that weekend.
So, here’s another issue for the Wests Tigers to look at and act: bring half the games here and you will see an increase in the number of fans, not a drop. No point beating about the bush with this: the Wests Tigers, if they are serious about their long term future, they must see Macarthur as being the key. The growth, folks, is here where we are, not at Concord or Balmain.
But unless they’re playing six games a season, and with a long term plan to play all of their games here, fans will continue to drop off and local business people will continue to ask why they should sponsor a club that visits four times a year.
And really, there’s so much more that can be done, but if the club can act on ticket prices immediately, and number of games in the longer term, it will be back on the right track if it wants Campbelltown and the rest of the Macarthur region to be Wests Tigers heartland.
I have no doubt the fans will return, whether they’re on a quarter of a million bucks a year or not.
*Eric Kontos is NSW Fairfax Community Newspapers
Group Sports Editor