REGIONAL clubs must find new ways to entice more patrons through their doors, Riverina club managers have said.
It comes as Tumut RSL Club was forced to close on September 10, with a sign posted on the doors citing “an extreme loss of patronage” as responsible for the end in trade.
The closure comes despite attempts by the club to improve smoking areas and poker machines, and changing the club’s restaurant from Chinese to Australian food last year.
But the club looks to be thrown a lifeline of sorts, as amalgamation discussions continue between the RSL and Club Tumut, the RSL club’s board of directors have confirmed.
Club Tumut CEO Jarrad Rossiter said preliminary steps were being taken towards a merger which would incorporate the “Anzac tradition” and give the sub-branch an office on Club Tumut’s grounds.
Discussions about a merger between the two clubs had first begun more than five years, Mr Rossiter said.
“We won’t be changing our name,” he said.
“But if it was successful the merger would take on the traditions of the RSL.”
More amalgamations between clubs were possible in towns where the population could no longer support the number of outlets, Mr Rossiter said.
“Here there are three clubs and six pubs; back in the day when the Snowy Scheme was still pumping I’m sure that was viable,” he said.
“But in this day and age it is not viable, and it’s sad to see the RSL club close but it’s got a big facility that hasn’t been maintained over the years.”
Wagga Boat Club commodore Mick Henderson said providing exemplary service would keep patrons coming back.
Good food and up to date amenities which could compete with Wagga’s pubs was key to getting younger members on board to supplement an ageing population, he said.
“It’s what appeals to people at moment,” Mr Henderson said.
“It’s keeping up with the times.
“We’ve got to keep moving forward and developing the clubs and maintaining them.”
Mr Henderson said the club was working hard to capitalize on heavy rainfall received over the winter months.
More visitors were using the lake and looking for somewhere to eat and drink afterwards, Mr Henderson said.
”We are fortunate with the water in the lake at the moment, we have got a lot of events on,” he said. “Hosting those events helps keep club doors open and keeps it trading with things like meals and courtesy buses.”