IT’S confirmed – Wagga will welcome NRL action to its biggest week of the year.
The NRL confirmed on Friday that Wagga will host an NRL game, featuring Canberra Raiders, on Saturday May 4 next year.
It will be the day after the Wagga Gold Cup at Murrumbidgee Turf Club.
The Daily Advertiser reported in August that the Raiders were looking to create a bumper weekend in Wagga and it has received the tick of approval from the NRL.
Raiders chief executive Don Furner was delighted with the placement of the Wagga game.
“We are excited about this premiership fixture, the Riverina is a great rugby league region and we are looking forward to finalising plans now that we have a date confirmed,” Furner said.
As part of the game, the Raiders will hit Wagga on Thursday and hold a number of promotions and events in the lead up to Saturday’s game at Equex Centre, which will start at 3pm.
Wagga deputy mayor Dallas Tout believes it will be a huge weekend for the city.
“Fantastic news, it’s going to be a very active and busy three days for the city and it’s great to bring the injection of funds into the city and also add to the visitors to the city throughout that weekend,” Tout said.
“It’s great just to have the Gold Cup and the footy game on the same weekend, it’s going to be an amazing three days.”
Tout expects up to 15,000 visitors to Wagga courtesy of the NRL game and has no concerns about the city’s accommodation being able to handle the influx of people.
He is also confident the city won’t have a repeat of the embarrassment caused by the proposed Sheffield Shield game in Wagga next month being cancelled due to the substandard nature of the Robertson Oval pitch.
“I’m sure it will be (right), we’ve done it before and it will be all okay,” he said.
Additional works will be performed at Equex Centre over summer, including the instalment of extra seating.
MTC chief executive Scott Sanbrook believes the NRL game will only add further excitement to the Wagga Gold Cup carnival.
“I think it will be a great way to cross-promote each event. We know the Gold Cup carnival is the biggest tourism driver in Wagga for the year and to have the NRL game complement it is just perfect,” Sanbrook said.
“I think the organisers should be congratulated for showing a lot of foresight because this sort of thing doesn’t happen in Wagga enough. I think too often that we either clash or don’t make the most of big events so by doing this they’ve really got the chance to maximise the NRL game.”
Sanbrook believes the NRL game can only help the attendance for the Wagga Gold Cup.
Canberra Raiders’ opponents in the Wagga NRL game are expected to be announced next week.
Tickets for the game will go in sale at the end of November.