Newcastle CEO Philip Gardner says the NRL should consider awarding the future hosting rights of Magic Round to the Knights after the club was named as the unlucky side to miss out on the event next year.
With Wayne Bennett’s Dolphins entering the league in 2023, one club is forced to miss the NRL’s biggest club celebration to accommodate the Queensland-based expansion side.
In 2023, that team will be the Knights. However, the omission is set to be rotated each year according to the NRL.
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Gardner suggested that if there was an opportunity for other cities to bid for the hosting rights of Magic Round, the Hunter region deserved consideration.
“We would love to,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“A Magic Round or a State of Origin would be great.
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“The economics of that makes it very difficult because it’s a bidding process. You would need the support of the NSW Government to do that, but certainly in Newcastle, at McDonald Jones Stadium, it would be a sellout all of the time.
“I don’t know if that’s economically feasible… but we would love to have it.”
With the Knights recording low fan engagement at this year’s Magic Round, Gardner understood the reasons for Newcastle not making the cut but still described the outcome as disappointing for Knights supporters.
“It should be shared around in years to come,” he said.
“Someone had to miss out, we get that. The fans are disappointed not to be included.
“We understand they would want the Queensland clubs involved because they need to sell tickets, but it’s still disappointing to have missed out. I don’t think you will ever see a Magic Round in Brisbane without Brisbane and the Dolphins.
“We won’t take a home game away from McDonald Jones Stadium, so that puts us at the back of the pack. It’s too important to our home fans, those games. Other clubs may be in a different situation.
“It’s disappointing for the fans because the fans love a good trip and getting up to Brisbane is a good trip. We’re disappointed, but we know the factors involved in it.”
Next year’s Magic Round is scheduled for May 5-7 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
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