The NRL has confirmed the Dolphins will be Brisbane’s second team and will be introduced into the NRL’s 2023 expanded season.
- Wayne Bennett is believed to be the Dolphins coach
- The Redcliffe-based Dolphins are also 40km from Brisbane’s CBD, satisfying the ARLC the Broncos and Gold Coast Titans
- The Dolphins boast assets of $70 millions and have more than $20m in cash reserves across their business empire
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From the courier mail 11.10.21
The Dolphins will be Brisbane’s second team, with the Redcliffe-backed $70 million powerhouse staving off bids from the Firehawks and Jets to clinch the NRL’s 17th licence.
News Corp can reveal the Dolphins are the preferred candidate with the Australian Rugby League Commission to formally unveil the northern-corridor consortium as the winning bid this week as part of the NRL’s expanded 17-team league for 2023.
It is understood Wayne Bennett will be the Dolphins’ foundation coach, although the former Broncos mentor has not agreed terms with any prospective employer at this stage.
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ARLC boss Peter V’landys declined to comment on the expansion process, but the Dolphins have been chosen as the standout bid.
Their victory will be formalised in the coming days pending the organisation meeting some key conditions requested by the ARLC.
The NRL’s Expansion Assessment Committee met last Friday and the seven-person panel spent 90 minutes analysing the merits of prospective franchises the Dolphins, Jets and Firehawks.
Redcliffe Dolphins Chairman Bob Jones, CEO Tony Murphy, and Bid chief Terry Reader at QRL headquarters. Picture: Lachie Millard
The Dolphins have had fresh, follow-up dialogue with the EAC – a clear sign they are the preferred bid to be recommended to the ARL Commission over the next 48 hours.
Only an 11th-hour disaster will prevent the Dolphins celebrating their coronation as Brisbane’s second team to rival the Broncos in one of the most significant projects for rugby league in its 113-year history.
The Dolphins will be the NRL’s first expansion team in 14 years following the introduction of the Titans in 2007.
Dolphins bid chief Terry Reader told News Corp last week the powerful bid is armed with a strategic plan that will see them hit the ground running if they are formally given the green light by the ARLC.
The high-level report by accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers supporting the Redcliffe Dolphins’ bid to become the NRL’s 17th franchise.
“The Dolphins persist in taking nothing for granted,” Reader said.
“We will continue to work in the background to be ready to enter the NRL competition as early as 2023 if our bid is successful.
“The Dolphins believe we are in a strong position to be awarded the new NRL licence. The Dolphins have the strongest financial backing of any bid. We also have the government support, infrastructure, elite-pathways plan, new fan base and an integrated strategy to grow the game in not only south-east Queensland but into central Queensland.
“The Dolphins have a detailed 100-day plan ready to initiate as soon as we are awarded an NRL licence to ensure we can be highly competitive from what could be our very first season in 2023.
“The Dolphins are NRL ready and can start tomorrow.”
It is a wonderful triumph for the Dolphins, who were founded in 1947 – the same year as Sydney-based clubs Parramatta and Manly – and boast infrastructure that will make the second Brisbane outfit one of the richest operations in the NRL.
The Dolphins boast assets of $70 millions and have more than $20m in cash reserves across their business empire which includes Redcliffe Leagues Club, a shopping centre and a gymnasium-and-aquatic facility.
The decision will come as a crushing blow for the Firehawks and Jets, both of whom had submitted strong proposals that included servicing rugby league in Brisbane’s booming western-corridor region.
Instead, the ARLC has opted for a northern option to promote the code in the Redcliffe, Moreton Bay and Sunshine Coast regions.
The Redcliffe-based Dolphins are also 40km from Brisbane’s CBD, satisfying the ARLC the Broncos and Gold Coast Titans will not be cannibalised by a 17th team as part of the code’s beefed-up $100 million broadcasting deal with Pay TV partners Foxtel.
Redcliffe’s stadium. Picture: Renae Droop
They are exploring a number of names including Sunshine State Dolphins and North Brisbane Dolphins and will seek public input before finalising an official brand.
“Redcliffe is not intended to be in the Dolphins NRL team’s name,” Reader said.
“Redcliffe will be the Dolphins’ NRL team base and present what the Red Hill base is to the Broncos.
“The Dolphins aim to consult with the community, fans and the NRL on a final name that may include a geographical reference suitable for Brisbane’s second NRL team.
“Analysis also demonstrates that The Dolphins will also have the least material impact on the current fanbase and operations of the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans.
“We are confident that our pitch provides the necessary peace of mind, stability and confidence for the NRL to expand the game with the Dolphins.”