Western Bulldogs and their partnership with Ballarat a success

Mattdougie

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Jun 29, 2013
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The AFL finalised renegotiated tenant clubs deals in November 2016. Soon after they took over ownership of Etihad and just prior to it be renamed Marvel. I dont think that details of the new deals have ever publicly been released beyond a vague assertion that the clubs will be better off. With one source having it that the Saints were projected to be as much as $2million better off than the previous year under the new arrangement. Having said this, I presume that although lower the agreement still had a crowd number floor, below which clubs are still liable for any cost incurred. I don't see a scenario where the AFL is ever going to underwrite all cost for teams playing out of Marvel. Giants or Metricon Stadiums on the other hand...

To me this suggests that we may have banked the difference, added it to the bottom line and that the local and state government guaranteed returns that we have for playing games out of Ballarat to smaller crowds still far outweighs the return that we would get for playing against lower drawing interstate teams in a stadium now owned by the administrators of the game.
Norm I believe we all understand that is most likely the outcome but what myself, and I think Lachy, are trying to say is do we need the $1million profit from these two games and what does the adverse cost to membership and crowd figures in fact mean the outright profit of this deal is now?

The club have shown a fiscal ability to make a profit now and I doubt very much that it all hinges on the Ballarat game.

I personally want all our games at Marvel so for the sake of argument why do we not “sell” two games to Marvel/Disney each year and wear special themed jumpers as we did in round one this year?

I would be fairly sure most kids would much prefer to see us in these themed jumpers than watch a game on TV in Ballarat? Wearing the jumpers is a sell out, as the Ballarat game is so what’s the difference?

I want OUR club to stay in Melbourne where we belong and I still cannot work out what the long term plan of this deal is, if it is to play even more games up there eventually then why the hell would we continue to support that idea as fans?

We have gone backwards in membership numbers since 2016 and anyone suggesting numbers in Ballarat have significantly grown is completely full of sh!t and anyone with a modicum of smarts know that is impossible. If membership is falling drastically everywhere else’s there is no way it’s grwoibg at a staggering rate in Ballarat due to two games against interstate teams that hardly any locals go to.
 
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Contador

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Norm I believe we all understand that is most likely the outcome but what myself, and I think Lachy, are trying to say is do we now need the $1million profit from these two games and what does the adverse cost to membership and crowd figures in fact mean the outright profit of this deal is now?

The club have shown a fiscal ability to make a profit now and I doubt very much that is all hinges on the Ballarat game.

I personally want all our games at Marvel so for the sake of argument why do we not “sell” two games to Marvel/Disney each year and wear special themed jumpers as we did round one this year?

I would be fairy sure most kids would much prefer to see us on these themed jumpers than watch a game on TV in Ballarat? Wearing the jumpers is an exact sell out as the Ballarat game is so what’s the difference?

I want OUR club to stay in Melbourne where we belong and I still cannot work out what the long term plan of thisfeal is because if it is to play even more games up there then why the hell would we continue to support that idea as fans??

We have gone backwards in membership numbers since 2016 and anyone suggesting numbers in Ballarat have significantly grown is completely full of sh!t and anyone with a modicum of smarts know that is impossible
It's also been stated that our contribution to Ballarat was a major factor in building relations with the Vic Government for the eventual granting of public land to the club. From memory the club has valued this at ~$18mil, as well as allowing for the development of the master plan for Whitten Oval. There are a lot of factors at play I would've thought.
 

footscray1973

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It's also been stated that our contribution to Ballarat was a major factor in building relations with the Vic Government for the eventual granting of public land to the club. From memory the club has valued this at ~$18mil, as well as allowing for the development of the master plan for Whitten Oval. There are a lot of factors at play I would've thought.
Agree with your last line. I can see everyone’s point of view here, but I’ve attended Ballarat member forums where Gordon has explicitly confirmed a long term commitment to Ballarat. I’m western Vic-based, so the games in Ballarat suit me, but as I pay for multiple social club memberships and reserved seats I’d be more than happy with 11 home games at Marvel. As dog watch and Lachy have also indicated, this club is not exactly transparent with its members - nor do they take constructive criticism well, look at bresker raising the pokies issue.

But if playing one hour up the road in Vic is the choice against a home game in tropical conditions (whose impact is not alleviated quickly even if followed by the bye), I’d opt for Ballarat every time. The capacity and member access is not ideal, but more members physically attend Ballarat games than ever have an interstate home game - I heard someone in membership answer that specific question after the game v Lions earlier this year (which makes sense as many can afford a drive/train to Ballarat but not a weekend in peak season to Darwin/Cairns).

Bottom line is I think all of us on all sides of the argument would be happier with more detail from the club. I’m not expecting specific contractual data, just what the strategic roadmap is, what the benefits are... and actual membership gains from the Ballarat venture. Seeing most/all of us put up our hard-earned in support, I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
 

DelRe

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Unless there was an obligation provided by the AFL on which the reneged why are they responsible for us signing the deal
The AFL isn’t responsible for the club directly signing the arrangement but the Ballarat terms didn’t determine when the games were played, the AFL did. There’s a few variables in arriving at the game being played at Ballarat in R23 and not all are in the clubs control.
 

Roogal

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I don't disagree Dogwatch I simply don't like being fed bulltish, would never do that in my business .

It is and always was a cash grab. Reality is it was understandable in 2015 when the agreement was signed.

But are we or are we not now debt free?
Have we or have we not made profits greater than we got from the Ballarat deal?
Do.we or do we not have a better deal at Marvel?
Do we or do we not want to grow our membership and attendances ?
Do we or do we not make our home game more accessible to.majority of our members?
Do we or do we not want to significantly grow reserved seat revenue?
Do we or do we not want to grow our corporate sponsorships?

If the answer is yes well then why are we not playing our 11 home games in Melbourne?

If the answer is no then hopefully there is a heap more money from the deal as reported.

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I appreciate your thoughts on this Lachy, 90% of club decisions are no doubt made on money, that's just sensible business, while probably 10% is pure emotion. The club is doing well financially now as are most AFL teams, but it is always good to be generating money from as many different sources as possible because when once a major source goes over or perhaps doesn't do as well as it may have done in the past, then it's always good to still have income from other sources.

Hawthorn are a good case in point. They were significantly in the red back back when they first went to Tassie in 1999. They have since turned things around significantly, and of course have won three or four flags during the intervening period. While Hawthorn desperately needed Tassie back in 99, one might argue that they don't need them now. But this raises an ethical question - Should Hawthorn walk away and turn their backs on Launceston after the monies sponsored to them by the Tasmanian Government, and support they've been given by the Northern Tasmanian people?

Perhaps we should ask if it's okay for North Melbourne to abandon Hobart (now that their books have balanced from their precarious situation back in 2008 when they had debts of $8 million)? I think that anybody who says 'Yes' to either of these questions might rightly be regarded as having the morals and ethics of a Tom Cat in most people's eyes. ;)

I think that anybody who reduces AFL to nothing more than a money making Endeavour, seriously cheapen the game and have forgotten the thousands of people who vollunteer, who feed it and nurture it at its grass roots across club's, competitions and leagues. It's about communities, and people in bigger cities easily lose sight of the simple truths that in many small communities and towns that the local footy and netball is the only thing they have that brings them together. Sometimes people forget that. Especially the Gil McGlaughans and fat cats of the big league in particular. 👍

It's not just always about the money in life and what's in it for 'You'! Sometimes what you give in life without conditions is rewarded in unexpected ways.
 
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Roogal

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All good questions although the last four are obviously rhetorical. My guess is above in blue.
However there are other factors to consider.

Without access to the financial strategists and the AFL commercial policy on docklands it's a bit hard to know what's best for us financially but here are some other things that may affect our venues strategy:
  • Will the AFL actually do a deal with us on docklands? (By "a deal" I mean something that's about an order of magnitude better than what we've had so far.)
  • If they do, will they be obliged to offer a comparable deal to every other tenant?
  • How would that stack up in terms of the viability of owning and paying off Docklands?
  • If such a deal (or collection of deals) is loss-making for the AFL do they then take that loss out of whatever distributions we get from them under the so-called equalisation strategy? Or is it better to find our own way with "cash-grab" venues and continue to receive benefits under the equalisation strategy?
  • In the early years nearly all cash-grabbing AFL clubs (including us) came to a new city with lots of positive PR and then left just as quickly, like a lover on a one-night stand. They knew there was very little strategic benefit, just the satisfaction of a cash grab. They all got a bad reputation for it. So Hawthorn, WB, Norf (at a minimum) have all embarked on a longer term strategy knowing that they can't continue surviving on one-night stands. The downside is you have to make a more enduring commitment. If we thought we could operate profitably over the long term at docklands I imagine we'd have done that by now. (But as we both acknowledge, we don't know the detail of negotiations in the last year or two.)
  • We may be profitable right now but what if we lapse again into a decade of unprofitability? Things can change quickly. In the last quarter century we've seen nearly all the Vic clubs in financial strife at one stage or another. Given that, is it prudent to throw out the cash cow of Ballarat/Mars on the strength of about 3 good trading years? They'd never trust us if we came back a couple of years later, cap in hand, saying I'm sorry I was unfaithful, can I climb back into bed?
  • We may be doing better out of Ballarat memberships than anyone realises, regardless of whether you believe Roogal's post above. I can't recall all the detail but there were some bullish things said at the Members Info night in June. They were intimating that it's coming along quite nicely in terms of revenues and memberships. And even if a lot of those were 3-game memberships we have no publicly available figures from clubs to compare it with. Dodgy membership figures are spruiked by most clubs most of the time.
  • There may be confidential commitments between the WB and the main players (AFL, Ballarat, State Govt etc) which result in other benefits to us (e.g. quid pro quo arrangements for sticking it out in Ballarat). I have no knowledge of it either way, so it's only hypothesising, but it's certainly possible. If so, it might help make it a much more compelling business case than it looks to us on the outside.
Anyway, if you're feeling disenfranchised I do hope you are taking it up with the club. They need to know what the membership base thinks.
Good post 👍
 

Sharkey66

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Norm I believe we all understand that is most likely the outcome but what myself, and I think Lachy, are trying to say is do we need the $1million profit from these two games and what does the adverse cost to membership and crowd figures in fact mean the outright profit of this deal is now?

The club have shown a fiscal ability to make a profit now and I doubt very much that it all hinges on the Ballarat game.

I personally want all our games at Marvel so for the sake of argument why do we not “sell” two games to Marvel/Disney each year and wear special themed jumpers as we did in round one this year?

I would be fairly sure most kids would much prefer to see us in these themed jumpers than watch a game on TV in Ballarat? Wearing the jumpers is a sell out, as the Ballarat game is so what’s the difference?

I want OUR club to stay in Melbourne where we belong and I still cannot work out what the long term plan of this deal is, if it is to play even more games up there eventually then why the hell would we continue to support that idea as fans?

We have gone backwards in membership numbers since 2016 and anyone suggesting numbers in Ballarat have significantly grown is completely full of sh!t and anyone with a modicum of smarts know that is impossible. If membership is falling drastically everywhere else’s there is no way it’s grwoibg at a staggering rate in Ballarat due to two games against interstate teams that hardly any locals go to.
Just a thought on wether we need the million or not, the club has recently just given all the pokies licenses away, that revenue stream needs to be replaced. At a guess I'd say Ballarat goes some way towards that end.
 

Roogal

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Just a thought on wether we need the million or not, the club has recently just given all the pokies licenses away, that revenue stream needs to be replaced. At a guess I'd say Ballarat goes some way towards that end.
Giving the pokies away isn't a bad thing. There are many sponsors out there who will ethically only deal with club's and businesses that don't promote gambling. North Melbourne gave up its pokies addiction a decade ago and we've never looked back. :thumbsu:
 

DognBones

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Hawthorn are a good case in point. They were significantly in the red back back when they first went to Tassie in 1999. They have since turned things around significantly, and of course have won three or four flags during the intervening period. While Hawthorn desperately needed Tassie back in 99, one might argue that they don't need them now. But this raises an ethical question - Should Hawthorn walk away and turn their backs on Launceston after the monies sponsored to them by the Tasmanian Government, and support they've been given by the Northern Tasmanian people?
As a point of clarification, perhaps a major reason, if not the main reason Hawthorn has turned around their finances is due to the fact they derive most of their revenue from pokies. Hawthorn is the worst AFL club in Victoria for skimming profits from pokies located in low socio-economic areas. Last year alone, losses in their venues (one of which, ironically is in the Western suburb of Caroline Springs) amounted to $24 million. That can buy a lot of financial security!
 

Roogal

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As a point of clarification, perhaps a major reason, if not the main reason Hawthorn has turned around their finances is due to the fact they derive most of their revenue from pokies. Hawthorn is the worst AFL club in Victoria for skimming profits from pokies located in low socio-economic areas. Last year alone, losses in their venues (one of which, ironically is in the Western suburb of Caroline Springs) amounted to $24 million. That can buy a lot of financial security!
True, they collected $36 million of their club's total $76 million in revenue back in 2016 from poker machines. There was an interesting article in the Herald Sun on this back in 2017. 👍
 

Mantis Toboggan

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Does a Bulldogs membership automatically get you in at Mars? Do I just rock up on the day with my pass or do I have to apply for a ticket or something? I’m talking about the Crows match of course.

Thanks.
 

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Dogs_r_barking

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Cheers. I guess we’ll just go early and find a decent spot to stand.
The Brissy game was great, standing on the hill, having a bit of banter, plenty of nice food trucks and close to drink outlets. It helped of course that we won, but I enjoyed it more than a previous trip where we bought reserve seats.
 

footscray1973

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Ground has a capacity of about 11,000 doesn’t it? So I’m guessing if we’re still alive in round 23, even general admission will be capped, so will pay to get there earlier if that’s the case.
 

footscray1973

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The Brissy game was great, standing on the hill, having a bit of banter, plenty of nice food trucks and close to drink outlets. It helped of course that we won, but I enjoyed it more than a previous trip where we bought reserve seats.
That game had the atmosphere of the old days at WO - on the hill I mean. I didn’t bother with seats this year, and that outer hill was good fun to watch the game. Unless forecast is heavy rain, I’ll take that option again.
 

bobs head soup

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Imagine if R23 is for 8th spot, it's a sell out and a lot of Crows fans drive from Adelaide but can't get in. That'll be a fine old sh.tfight. Could make for a hell of an atmosphere.
 

Mattdougie

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I would suggest the people who back this Ballarat idea will probably be hoping it doesn’t come down to round 23 for us to make finals.

I have absolutely no doubt we would beat the crows at Marvel on a dry deck when they are the slowest team in the comp but outside at Ballarat definitely makes it better for them.

The backlash will be monumental if we actually drag ourselves back to contention and lose the game up there.

Gordon and co can spin all the BS they want but that will go down like a lead balloon
 

mcgleereturns

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In the end, it’s all speculative woulda coulda shoulda ranting from all of us. We beat Brisbane in Ballarat - what if we played them at Marvel? What if it didn’t rain when we played Port? What if we played Richmond 3 weeks ago instead of 3 months ago? What if we played Geelong BEFORE the bye? What if we played Suns 3 weeks ago instead of 3 months ago?

We’re playing Crows in Ballarat. We have to beat some of Brisbane, Essendon and GWS before we even worry about it. And some are gonna complain.


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Roogal

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Does a Bulldogs membership automatically get you in at Mars? Do I just rock up on the day with my pass or do I have to apply for a ticket or something? I’m talking about the Crows match of course.

Thanks.
I'm not 100% sure on that one, I'll leave that other forumers to answer. I know that normally the WBFC Members must pay an additional 'add on' up front for Ballarat games, but to go in without that on the day I am not sure how that works on the general access standing areas of Mars Stadium. I am sure that Ticketech website or the WBFC website will have all of the information now that the schedule has been locked in. I reckon that you'll have to be really quick because this game will be massively booked out by Adelaide supporters, and I think that they will come over in their 1000s.

This just might be Mars Stadium's first complete full house (plus some).
 

Roogal

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In the end, it’s all speculative woulda coulda shoulda ranting from all of us. We beat Brisbane in Ballarat - what if we played them at Marvel? What if it didn’t rain when we played Port? What if we played Richmond 3 weeks ago instead of 3 months ago? What if we played Geelong BEFORE the bye? What if we played Suns 3 weeks ago instead of 3 months ago?

We’re playing Crows in Ballarat. We have to beat some of Brisbane, Essendon and GWS before we even worry about it. And some are gonna complain.


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Exactly! Regardless of who you play or where you play, both teams are playing under exactly the same conditions. Ballarat at least offers the new advantage that Adelaide Crows have never played there before, where as the Bulldogs have now played four seasonal H&A games and two JLT games there under the best and WORST of its conditions.
 

Roogal

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I think the bigger issue from anyone would be the fact that the Dogs lost to GC, Carl, North and Saints before blaming the adelaide or any game we might lose on the run home
In fairness, the Dogs played North at Marvel on both occasions this year on what is effectively their home ground, and frankly North aren't or were never as bad as a team as their position on the ladder earlier in the season might have reflected. Remember that they literally were robbed by poor umpiring decisions in the final minutes of two games against Brisbane and Essendon where they were separated by mere points and if they had won those games would right now be sitting 9th and not 13th on the ladder above the Western Bulldogs separated by points and a healthy percentage.

I can't and won't vouch for the other teams that you mentioned, but I will say emphatically that you should not dismiss North Melbourne into the same league as Melbourne, St Kilda or the GC Suns.
 

BallaratBulldog

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In fairness, the Dogs played North at Marvel on both occasions this year on what is effectively their home ground, and frankly North aren't or were never as bad as a team as their position on the ladder earlier in the season might have reflected. Remember that they literally were robbed by poor umpiring decisions in the final minutes of two games against Brisbane and Essendon where they were separated by mere points and if they had won those games would right now be sitting 9th and not 13th on the ladder above the Western Bulldogs separated by points and a healthy percentage.

I can't and won't vouch for the other teams that you mentioned, but I will say emphatically that you should not dismiss North Melbourne into the same league as Melbourne, St Kilda or the GC Suns.
More a reference under Scott when we played rather than now vs Shaw. Definitely miles better now.
 

LondonBulldog

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I'm not 100% sure on that one, I'll leave that other forumers to answer. I know that normally the WBFC Members must pay an additional 'add on' up front for Ballarat games, but to go in without that on the day I am not sure how that works on the general access standing areas of Mars Stadium. I am sure that Ticketech website or the WBFC website will have all of the information now that the schedule has been locked in. I reckon that you'll have to be really quick because this game will be massively booked out by Adelaide supporters, and I think that they will come over in their 1000s.

This just might be Mars Stadium's first complete full house (plus some).
If you use your memembership for our replacement games, Pies earlier in the year and Essendon this week then

NO your membership will not get you into Ballarat. If you don't go to one of the replacement games then you can get in to Ballarat as long as you didn't go to the first game.

Basically you get 11 home games and can choose between 9 Marvel games and 2 replacements games or 2 Ballarat games as part of the full 11 homes games.
 
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