Tony Mestrov is a see problem, fix problem CEO. Since putting his feet under the desk at Sea Eagles HQ, he has overseen the removal of Des Hasler, appointed Anthony Seibold as coach, ushered pathways co-ordinator Kristy Fulton out the door, reconnected the community with their football team and attracted record memberships.
Now he is tackling arguably his greatest challenge – turning around one of the worst match-day experiences in Australian sport. 4 Pines Park – or Brookie Oval as it's known to the faithful - is stuck in a time warp.
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If you need to go to the toilet or want to buy a beer or food, forget about watching the match. Your 80 minutes will be spent lining up only to find the dunny is busted or they’ve run out of beer.
Former Bronco Todd Lowrie famously labelled the ground a 'shithole' several seasons ago. It's been that way for 40 years but nothing changes. Until now.
"Our fans were on a high after the great first round win over the Dogs but many reached out to point out the problems they encountered at the ground," Mestrov told Yahoo Sport Australia. "We've acknowledged the match-day experience can be better and have put steps in place to rectify many of the problems.
"The purpose of our meeting with council, police, security and food and beverage partners (after the first round game) was to address the issues we had. I am pleased to say there was a general acceptance and agreement that we must work together in the best interests of the fans and the community, and in a responsible and safe manner.
"One of the major issues with our home game against the Bulldogs was a connectivity issue with WIFI, which impacted the payments system at all points of sale – and we have taken steps to resolve this for our (third round) match against the Eels. But we also discussed ways to improve access and flow of service for patrons wanting food, drinks and bathroom access. Our opening game was a sell-out and with membership at all-time record levels, we will also be exploring longer term solutions that fit with our future plans for the venue."
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Life-long Manly supporter Barry Cake has numbed his backside on the Brookie hill for the best part of 50 years and loves it. But he steels himself for every match.
"If you're prepared to forgo a drink or something to eat or a leak then it's the best two hours of the week," he told us. "Last Saturday it was an least an hour's wait for a beer, the old red brick toilet behind the hill is now fenced off and the food vans at the Pittwater Rd end were gone.
"People don't mind paying if service is fast – in and out. At the moment, getting a drink is like being hit with multiple six agains – it wears you down. It's great to hear Tony and the club is listening to the fans and are doing something about it."
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