If you build it, they will come.
Tamworth’s own field of dreams seems to be working, with two “marquee NRL clubs” ready to sign on the dotted line to bring a headline NRL premiership clash to Scully Park every season for the next three years.
On Monday, Fairfax reported that up to five premiership matches would be played at regional grounds, with Tamworth and Bathurst already locked in to the draw.
Wests Entertainment Group CEO Rod Laing confirmed that the deal was “definite”, although was unable to release exactly which clubs would be venturing west of the range, only to say “the two clubs in question” would all but guarantee a capacity crowd.
The Leader has heard unconfirmed reports the clubs will be St George and South Sydney.
The WEG boss also confirmed that “talks were still on the agenda” for the Tamworth region to have its very own NSW Cup franchise, the competition directly under the NRL.
While both those announcements would be huge news on their own, the icing on the cake could be a further upgrade to Scully Park.
Coinciding with the NRL news on Monday, the State Government announced a new $100 million Regional Sports Infrastructure Fund, aimed at “improving the quality and quantity of sports venues in regional areas.”
Among the priorities of the fund is the upgrading of facilities with a maximum capacity of 10,000 to 20,000 people that are capable of hosting major events.
On Sunday an NRL spokesperson said "as more regional grounds and arenas are upgraded it makes it easier for us to take more games to the bush," and Mr Laing confirmed that Scully Park fits the bill.
“Absolutely, along with the three year NRL deal we could get a further upgrade,” Mr Laing said.
“Negotiations have been going on for months, and are still ongoing, but we are a fair way down the track.
“The NRL games – I would call that definite. The announcement should be coming from Todd Greenberg (NRL CEO) shortly.”
Greenberg had pledged to compensate regional NSW when the decision was made to remove the City-Country fixture, which Scully Park hosted in 2016, from the schedule.
Tamworth Regional Councillor Mark Rodda said it was “very exciting news for Tamworth and the region.”
“Anything that further identifies Tamworth as a regional sporting hub is great news,” he said.