Tackle Three – Leichhardt to live on
Leichhardt Oval hosts its final game of 2015 next Friday night. It’s a sure bet the lead-up will be punctuated by doom and gloom stories about the venue’s future in the NRL. We can put them to bed right now. Leichhardt Oval will host Wests Tigers games not only next season, but for at least the coming three years. In short, the joint venture’s board accepts now - with the team running dead last - is not the time to agitating its rusted-on fan base.
Leichhardt Oval on a perfect Sunday afternoon. Image: Getty
Tigers chairman Marina Go and coach Jason Taylor have also been up front about medium-term prospects, pleading with supporters to keep the faith ahead of a three-year salary cap convalescence. With limited buying power during that period, the odds aren’t great that Wests will experience much success any time soon. Abandoning spiritual homes would only cause more upheaval and heartache, not to mention the erosion of home ground advantage.
Fears were raised about Leichhardt’s future when Balmain was forced to hand back the lease to the local council, which now negotiates directly with the NRL club. No tenancy deal for 2016 has been struck, but we’ve been assured Leichhardt - and Campbelltown - are still entrenched as future venues. Both grounds currently host four games a season. It won’t be reduced to anything less than three.