Western Bulldogs and their partnership with Ballarat a success

King Harold

Norm Smith Medallist
Apr 23, 2013
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It’s just a noisey minority that can’t see the forest for the trees. Don’t waste your breath.
My problem maddog is how we get to the forest ? Right now there are plenty of twigs.
So far hardly anyone has got behind it , including the locals.
Nowhere have I seen a blueprint or business study to where this is taking us.
I don’t mind tipping in more money for our club ( have to book for seating for this our home game ) even though I already pay plenty , but who has any idea what the expected benefit there is over the longer term ?
 

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maddog37

Premium Platinum
Aug 25, 2008
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My problem maddog is how we get to the forest ? Right now there are plenty of twigs.
So far hardly anyone has got behind it , including the locals.
Nowhere have I seen a blueprint or business study to where this is taking us.
I don’t mind tipping in more money for our club ( have to book for seating for this our home game ) even though I already pay plenty , but who has any idea what the expected benefit there is over the longer term ?
I feel that with better scheduling they will get better crowds and that was evident against Brisbane. I also reckon that if we are playing well and in finals contention supporters will be more likely to turn up. The last two years we have largely been unenjoyable to watch. Time will tell.
 

dogwatch

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My problem maddog is how we get to the forest ? Right now there are plenty of twigs.
So far hardly anyone has got behind it , including the locals.
Nowhere have I seen a blueprint or business study to where this is taking us.
I don’t mind tipping in more money for our club ( have to book for seating for this our home game ) even though I already pay plenty , but who has any idea what the expected benefit there is over the longer term ?
This is all true but nobody bothered raising that point when we were travelling to Darwin, Cairns or Canberra year after year.

Is it that those days were clearly just a short term "cash grab" ... despite the lip service that was given to the local communities?

I agree with you that if this is now a genuinely strategic move why insult our intelligence and our loyalty by denying us details of the strategy? Surely it can't be all "commercial in-confidence"? It seems that these days everybody in power has a phobia about any light being shone on what they actually do in the name of their constituents.

I can understand why a federal government might not want people to know what devious deeds they are up to but surely a little transparency wouldn't hurt a small outfit like a footy club?
 

Dogs 13

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Nov 13, 2003
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It's not an accident that Western Melbourne was given the nod last year for the new A League Franchise over two rival bids from Melbourne's East. The FFA have cleaverly looked at the demographics of Melbourne's booming West and have identified that the populace there are particularly more likely to be drawn into the round ball game over ours. Now why is that? If AFL is as strong in Melbourne's West as you are suggesting, then why did the Western Bulldogs own statistics released this earlier year indicate a decline in the club's Melbourne Membership since 2017?
I can't let this slide. Did you really miss the bleeding obvious or did you deliberately pull this comment out to suit your own vested interest ?

2016 (Premiership) - 39,459 members

2017 - 47,653 members, a 20+% upswing due people jumping on-board after winning the flag
(the greatest series of finals wins in the history of the game;) ). This was an anomaly year.

2018 - 43,246 members, a drop in membership due to a poor defence of the flag year and some bandwagoners dropping off, however still a 9.6% increase on 2016.

2019 - 44,373 members, 2.6% increase.

No matter how we slice it or dice it, the vast majority of members are not attending Ballarat games, that is just a fact.
 

Prince Imperial

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Apr 9, 2003
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People really should listen to these Peter Gordon's comments about the large financial benefits to the club from playing matches at Ballarat plus its part in the overall partnership with the state government that has had (and is likely to have) with funding the redevelopment of the Whitten Oval. It's from about the 12th minute.

 

Prince Imperial

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Apr 9, 2003
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I can't let this slide. Did you really miss the bleeding obvious or did you deliberately pull this comment out to suit your own vested interest ?

2016 (Premiership) - 39,459 members

2017 - 47,653 members, a 20+% upswing due people jumping on-board after winning the flag
(the greatest series of finals wins in the history of the game;) ). This was an anomaly year.

2018 - 43,246 members, a drop in membership due to a poor defence of the flag year and some bandwagoners dropping off, however still a 9.6% increase on 2016.

2019 - 44,373 members, 2.6% increase.
Yep and our 2018 annual report stated that the majority of the decrease that year was due to a decision to not hand out 5000 complimentary memberships.
 

dogwatch

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Jun 17, 2009
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People really should listen to these Peter Gordon's comments about the large financial benefits to the club from playing matches at Ballarat plus its part in the overall partnership with the state government that has had (and is likely to have) with funding the redevelopment of the Whitten Oval. It's from about the 12th minute.

I understand the benefits that have been reaped. I reported on those at the time the forum was progressing and they are considerable. We should be grateful for them and I think so far it's been managed pretty well.

However my question (and I think KH's) is that we can't see what the long game is. The benefits PG listed are all current term ones (ie now through to the end of the current agreement which is another 2 years or so). Is there a longer term strategy involving Ballarat? If so, what is it?

I'm pretty sure neither Gordon or Bains answered that on the night. Please correct me if they did.

The fact that no longer term strategy has been articulated (as it seems) for the next say 7, 10 or 20 years leads me to one of two conclusions:
  1. There isn't one and it's simply another cash grab, maintaining the goodwill of the participants for as long as we can. As I said recently a "cash grab" is not necessarily bad ... but it is only ever a short term thing.
  2. There are definite strategic plans but the club doesn't want to divulge them for fear of backlash, interference, criticism if they fail, unpredictable contingencies, etc.
Neither is ideal but I'd prefer to think it was the latter. The problem is that when fans feel they are left in the dark they usually dislike the lack of transparency and will often assume something sinister and devious is going on.

I'd like to know at a minimum whether we have any clear plans for Ballarat at least 7-10 years down the track. As an ordinary member I don't need to see the whole business case, some of which I can understand would indeed be confidential. However the headline benefits, assumptions and commitments would certainly be of interest to us all.
 

Prince Imperial

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Apr 9, 2003
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I understand the benefits that have been reaped. I reported on those at the time the forum was progressing and they are considerable. We should be grateful for them and I think so far it's been managed pretty well.

However my question (and I think KH's) is that we can't see what the long game is. The benefits PG listed are all current term ones (ie now through to the end of the current agreement which is another 2 years or so). Is there a longer term strategy involving Ballarat? If so, what is it?

I'm pretty sure neither Gordon or Bains answered that on the night. Please correct me if they did.

The fact that no longer term strategy has been articulated (as it seems) for the next say 7, 10 or 20 years leads me to one of two conclusions:
  1. There isn't one and it's simply another cash grab, maintaining the goodwill of the participants for as long as we can. As I said recently a "cash grab" is not necessarily bad ... but it is only ever a short term thing.
  2. There are definite strategic plans but the club doesn't want to divulge them for fear of backlash, interference, criticism if they fail, unpredictable contingencies, etc.
Neither is ideal but I'd prefer to think it was the latter. The problem is that when fans feel they are left in the dark they usually dislike the lack of transparency and will often assume something sinister and devious is going on.

I'd like to know at a minimum whether we have any clear plans for Ballarat at least 7-10 years down the track. As an ordinary member I don't need to see the whole business case, some of which I can understand would indeed be confidential. However the headline benefits, assumptions and commitments would certainly be of interest to us all.
I'm comfortable with the club's current commitment to Ballarat and I'm sure they are in discussions with the state government for a longer term sponsorship/home game agreement and further upgrades of the stadium. Until this is reached, I'm not sure what they can really tell us other than the obvious goals (i.e. growing our membership and community programs in the area).
 

Mattdougie

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Jun 29, 2013
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My kids school is in the ACTUAL Western Suburbs of Melbourne. In one of the fastest growing suburbs in this country.

This year they have had another two AFL visits. Norf and the pies.
 

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lachy

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How many schools are in the Western suburbs?
There are many, but whilst we are utilising resources in Ballarat, North, the Pies and the Bombers are all putting resources into our backyard.

The only visit to our junior football club this year was from the Bombers.

We only have so many players, it is how you allocate your resources. It is the danger of the Ballarat sojourn
 

dogwatch

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Individual anecdotes are fine but can you tell me how many schools have been visited by the WB and not by all of North/Essendon/Collingwood/whoever?

Also in other posts I have read that local engagement makes no difference in the Ballarat region because all the fans are rusted onto whichever clubs they and their families have always supported. So why is it suddenly different in the western suburbs?

And can you tell me how many school visits we actually do in Ballarat? Are they all year round or just around the time of the games?

Further, whatever visits and engagement we undertake, it's not just about the fans. The WB have a vast territory across western Victoria (from the western suburbs right out to the Wimmera, including Ballarat) for our NGA region. This now looks like it will deliver some real talent - such as JUH - that we might not otherwise have had access to. It is important to invest wholeheartedly in that region with school visits and other forms of community engagement and development. In fact I thought it was one of the underpinning principles of the NGAs that clubs DO invest in targeted development across their allocated region.

Also are you aware that North's NGA region includes all of the Wyndham City region - Werribee, Hoppers Crossing, Point Cook etc? So it could be that North is just servicing its local area (and maybe even just beyond because some kids might live in their area but go to school in ours).

For the record, Essendon's NGA region includes the North-West suburbs but I don't know what actual suburbs they happen to be. Collingwood doesn't have an official NGA region out our way (unless it's parts of the inner-west).

I honestly don't know whether there's a problem with western suburbs school visits or not, but a few anecdotes don't settle it for me. If anyone has all the facts then we can have an informed discussion about it.
 

lachy

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Individual anecdotes are fine but can you tell me how many schools have been visited by the WB and not by all of North/Essendon/Collingwood/whoever?

Also in other posts I have read that local engagement makes no difference in the Ballarat region because all the fans are rusted onto whichever clubs they and their families have always supported. So why is it suddenly different in the western suburbs?

And can you tell me how many school visits we actually do in Ballarat? Are they all year round or just around the time of the games?

Further, whatever visits and engagement we undertake, it's not just about the fans. The WB have a vast territory across western Victoria (from the western suburbs right out to the Wimmera, including Ballarat) for our NGA region. This now looks like it will deliver some real talent - such as JUH - that we might not otherwise have had access to. It is important to invest wholeheartedly in that region with school visits and other forms of community engagement and development. In fact I thought it was one of the underpinning principles of the NGAs that clubs DO invest in targeted development across their allocated region.

Also are you aware that North's NGA region includes all of the Wyndham City region - Werribee, Hoppers Crossing, Point Cook etc? So it could be that North is just servicing its local area (and maybe even just beyond because some kids might live in their area but go to school in ours).

For the record, Essendon's NGA region includes the North-West suburbs but I don't know what actual suburbs they happen to be. Collingwood doesn't have an official NGA region out our way (unless it's parts of the inner-west).

I honestly don't know whether there's a problem with western suburbs school visits or not, but a few anecdotes don't settle it for me. If anyone has all the facts then we can have an informed discussion about it.
Everything you have said in your post Dogwatch is correct and are the right questions.

Area's do become defacto Zones.

North picked up their NGA region through their alliance with the Werribee football club which only came to an end this season, which we got rid of many years ago.

However, in saying that there are only limited resources available. We need to ensure our resources in our region are fully utilised to ensure growth in our support and membership base grows in one of Australia's fastest growth corridors. This is not easy to manage and maybe the club is doing the best they can and criticism in this area is unfair.

One point I think your email alludes to is playing home games at Ballarat and growing in our NGA area's are actually mutually exclusive, which I agree with.
 

Mattdougie

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Jun 29, 2013
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Imagine the reaction from The Pies if we went to a school in Collingwood??

But Norf apparently have a zone in West melbourne so let’s roll over and let them have it
 

Contador

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Aug 24, 2009
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I honestly believe that you are grossly underestimating the appeal, reach and depth of soccer in this country. Just because you don't like the game (And I don't either for the record) doesn't mean that you should dismiss it off hand because your game is bigger at the moment. Remember, that only 20 years ago the US dismissed China. The AFL does not have a 20 year plan, Football Australia does whereby they are actively pushing a program to increase particiation rates to 4 million by 2036 (When our population is forecast to be 30-31 million). Their plan has identified the top 500 grounds across Australia and 250 of those they are actively pushing to be fully upgraded to professional playing standards with night lighting by then. They have an active kids program in every major city and town and they also have a plan for managing the growth and ongoing support of grass roots clubs. With exception of Auskick the AFL has none of these things. The perception from outside of Melbourne is that the AFL doesn't give a toss about grass roots clubs, regional football and certainly have done their level best to take over the VFL.

It will be telling to see indeed whether the new Western United franchise can draw crowds of 5000+ (As predicted) to each of their four games at Mars Stadium over this Summer and into next April. I am not sure what crowds they are predicting for the nine scheduled Kardinia Park games but its likely to be more than 5000. At least they don't plan to stay playing in Ballarat and Geelong beyond 2022 with their plans well advanced to establish a new 20,000 seat stadium at Tarneit (Midway between Rockbank and Werribee).

It's not an accident that Western Melbourne was given the nod last year for the new A League Franchise over two rival bids from Melbourne's East. The FFA have cleaverly looked at the demographics of Melbourne's booming West and have identified that the populace there are particularly more likely to be drawn into the round ball game over ours. Now why is that? If AFL is as strong in Melbourne's West as you are suggesting, then why did the Western Bulldogs own statistics released this earlier year indicate a decline in the club's Melbourne Membership since 2017?

I am not trying to be nasty, believe me you'd know it if I was. I am just keeping an open mind and urging others to do the same. These two documents provide interesting insights if you are interested on how Soccer plans to grow in Australia and more significantly here in Victoria.

https://www.ffa.com.au/sites/ffa/files/2019-05/Whole_of_Football_Plan.pdf

https://www.footballvictoria.com.au/sites/ffv/files/2018-12/FV_Facilities_Strategy.pdf


In closing, I am urging forumers to not take their eye off the ball with Soccer. Whether the supporters are aware of it or not the Western Bulldogs Football Club is presently engaged in an all out war for the hearts and minds of the West. At stake is the future generations kids who will choose which code they will either play or support, future club memberships and most importantly revenues.
I do like soccer, probably more than I like AFL, but I think you're vastly overestimating the strategic planning abilities of the FFA. They're a pretty shambolic organisation who are absolutely desperate for money in the short-term. I hope it does succeed in the way you predict, but it looks highly unlikely to me. I'm very much looking forward to the next A-league season to see just how bad the attendance figures might be (for entertainment's sake). Even if Western Utd does somehow succeed, the Bulldogs can quite easily coexist with a small A-League team in the same district. Most soccer fans in the west already support Melbourne Victory anyway.

And as others have stated, the reason for the decline in Bulldogs memberships since 2017 is fairly obvious.

Anyway, hopefully we get a decent forecast for next week and it can be an enjoyable game to attend.
 

Marbyriver

Draftee
Aug 15, 2019
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Does anyone know if I can access this game with my membership despite attending both replacement games in Melbourne? I've missed a few of our home games this year so thinking I still may be able to use it to make up the 11.

I was able to purchase a gen admin ticket using my member barcode but worried I'll turn up and be denied access.
 

Prince Imperial

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Apr 9, 2003
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Further, whatever visits and engagement we undertake, it's not just about the fans. The WB have a vast territory across western Victoria (from the western suburbs right out to the Wimmera, including Ballarat) for our NGA region. This now looks like it will deliver some real talent - such as JUH - that we might not otherwise have had access to. It is important to invest wholeheartedly in that region with school visits and other forms of community engagement and development. In fact I thought it was one of the underpinning principles of the NGAs that clubs DO invest in targeted development across their allocated region.

Also are you aware that North's NGA region includes all of the Wyndham City region - Werribee, Hoppers Crossing, Point Cook etc? So it could be that North is just servicing its local area (and maybe even just beyond because some kids might live in their area but go to school in ours).

For the record, Essendon's NGA region includes the North-West suburbs but I don't know what actual suburbs they happen to be. Collingwood doesn't have an official NGA region out our way (unless it's parts of the inner-west).
There's a map of the NGA zones here:

 

LardDog

All Australian
Sep 22, 2006
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BTW it's standing room only now for the crows game. I was going to get seats this arvo,ticketmaster said they're available, but I put off getting em till I got home from work. Now tonight I can only get GA standing......grumble grumble....
 

MYOB

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Jul 12, 2010
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Does anyone know if I can access this game with my membership despite attending both replacement games in Melbourne? I've missed a few of our home games this year so thinking I still may be able to use it to make up the 11.

I was able to purchase a gen admin ticket using my member barcode but worried I'll turn up and be denied access.
If you've upgraded and it accepted your barcode, then your good to go.
 

MYOB

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BTW it's standing room only now for the crows game. I was going to get seats this arvo,ticketmaster said they're available, but I put off getting em till I got home from work. Now tonight I can only get GA standing......grumble grumble....
It's a good experience standing amongst the throng.
 

Roogal

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Dec 7, 2016
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I can't let this slide. Did you really miss the bleeding obvious or did you deliberately pull this comment out to suit your own vested interest ?

2016 (Premiership) - 39,459 members

2017 - 47,653 members, a 20+% upswing due people jumping on-board after winning the flag
(the greatest series of finals wins in the history of the game;) ). This was an anomaly year.

2018 - 43,246 members, a drop in membership due to a poor defence of the flag year and some bandwagoners dropping off, however still a 9.6% increase on 2016.

2019 - 44,373 members, 2.6% increase.

No matter how we slice it or dice it, the vast majority of members are not attending Ballarat games, that is just a fact.
:) YES I WAS 100% correct. Melbourne based membership growths have declined somewhat in 2018 and 19 since the post Premiership peak of 2017, but the club noted that Ballarat memberships have consisistently continued to grow over the same period. I their words they said that it was a 'highlight'. I didn't make that up, THIS IS FROM YOUR OWN CLUB! How many different ways do you need to see it written? If you have issue with their figures (remember it's their figures NOT MINE, from THEIR report) saying this, then take it up with them. There's no point arguing with me over YOUR Club's public releases and publically released statements.

You might consider that 9.6% of 43,246 is roughly 4,200. WBFC have noted membership from across the Ballarat region had increasd by 4000 as at April 2019 since 2016. Even accounting for the extra 2.6% in 2019 then that accounts for an extra 1100 (roughly). So since 2016 in real terms the club taking Ballarat and district figures out of the equation has added roughly 1500. This is perhaps consistent with membership growth of the Club in Melbourne before its 2016 Premiership. This was the point that the Club was making earlier this season. I do stress that these figures are rough (without a calculator).

Their dilema now for Melbourne is to make AFL appealing again to the children of the many migrants who now call Western Melbourne home. The war's not lost, the battle future generations hearts and minds is only beginning.
 

Roogal

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Dec 7, 2016
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I'm completely fine with it, the wife and kids are slightly less impressed :)
I agree, the hill is a nice (but not so practical) touch for kids and shorter people. The hill is nice to sit on with a rug for local and JLT games in the summer when its not crowded. Mars Stadium definitely needs more sheltered seats for AFL seasonal games.:thumbsu:
 
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