The Manly Warringah Sea Eagles wish to respond to recent media reports published in relation to Brookvale Oval and containing comments made by or on behalf of Warringah Council.

Contrary to the suggestion by Mayor Michael Regan, the Sea Eagles have never contemplated moving the team from the spiritual home of Brookvale Oval.

The Sea Eagles will soon launch the 2016 Membership campaign that includes 10 games at Brookvale Oval.  The Sea Eagles are keen to remain at Brookvale Oval but cannot do so upon terms which are unfinancial and jeopardise the future of the Sea Eagles.  At present, the terms offered by Warringah Council results in the Sea Eagles incurring a financial loss for the vast majority of home fixtures played at Brookvale Oval due to the exorbitant ground hire fee, the severe limitations of reserved and undercover seating areas and restricted corporate hospitality capability.

The Club is in dispute with Warringah Council regarding:

· The terms upon which the Club was licensed to use Brookvale Oval in the 2015 season (the terms of which, contrary to the comments of the Mayor, were not agreed by the Club for the 2015 season);

· The closure of Brookvale Oval for a significant period in early 2015 due to the ground surface not meeting the standards of the NRL necessitating the relocation of lower-grade fixtures and the general standard of the ground surface; and

· The terms upon which the Club may licence Brookvale Oval in the future.

These matters have been in dispute since as early as December 2014.  Without success, the Club has sought to resolve these issues in the course of 2015 and recently participated in mediation in accordance with the Council’s own dispute resolution processes.

Relevant to the issues in dispute, the Club notes:

· The occupation fee charged to the Club of $45,000 per home fixture is inexplicably excessive when compared to other organisations to use Brookvale Oval including a professional national rugby union franchise which is charged only $750 to host a fixture at Brookvale Oval;

· When compared to the hiring terms for other suburban grounds used by other NRL teams?), the Brookvale Oval facilities are inferior:

o Brookvale Oval has the smallest number of reserved and undercover seats and most limited corporate hospitality capacity of any full time venue in the NRL;

o Brookvale Oval is the only NRL full time playing surface which is available to the public;

o The playing surface is not maintained according to specific NRL standards as it is also used for rugby union, soccer and other casual activities;

o Warringah Council is charging the highest fee of any NRL Club using a suburban ground;

o The media and broadcasting facilities and the change rooms are the most out of date of any full time venue used in the NRL.

· The Sea Eagles were embarrassed and publicly criticised in Round 3 of the 2015 season when the ground was deemed unsuitable for NRL matches.  The NRL & the Sea Eagles were forced to contract independent turf specialists to remedy the problem at the Sea Eagles’ expense;

· Warringah Council claim that it is subsidising the Sea Eagles’ use of Brookvale Oval but the Sea Eagles subsidise 75% of the Council’s annual operating costs of a public park, most of which relate to continued use by the public and other hirers;

· The Sea Eagles investment in local community support exceeds $250,000 annually through over 700 hours of direct community programmes run through organisations including Royal Far West, the Northern Beaches Public School system and Bowel Cancer Australia, which dwarfs the local community support of rival professional football codes in the area;

· Brookvale Oval was gifted to Warringah Council by Jane Try and her family on condition that the ground be used for promoting sport and recreation in the area.

The Sea Eagles are disappointed that Warringah Council has refused to meet for the purpose of resolving the issues in dispute, despite repeated requests over the course of the 2015 season.  The Sea Eagles are of the view that the Club is being used as a scapegoat for the Council’s irresponsibility in relation to the management of a public park.  The Council’s position is forcing the Sea Eagles out of Brookvale Oval.  In the circumstances, the Sea Eagles have not ruled out endorsing other candidates when the next council elections are held or putting up its own candidate.

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