Suburban grounds to feel NRL crowd pinch

Scott Bailey
A Bankwest Stadium move for Wests Tigers will pave the way for more fans to get into games

Suburban grounds risk being significantly disadvantaged on the NRL's return to crowds with some attendances set to be capped to less than 3000.

Under NSW Government restrictions recommended by national cabinet, seats can be filled to 25 per cent capacity from July.

However the presence of hills at suburban grounds will make that figure far lower, with only one person permitted every four square metres on non-seated areas.

For instance, at Kogarah, the expected initial capacity is expected to be around 2,900 when St George Illawarra host Manly in round nine.

At the Dragons' other home ground in Wollongong, crowds could be expected to be around the same or slightly lower due to the size of the venue.

The Red V are expected to alternate their remaining home matches between the two grounds, while Cronulla are using Kogarah fulltime.

At Panthers Stadium, a slightly higher capacity of 4000 will at this stage be in place for Penrith's first home match against North Queensland in round 10.

Corporate boxes will also be affected, with the one person per four square metres rule still in place and drastically reducing the capacity in each.

Manly are still trying to confirm what crowd numbers will be in place at Lottoland this season, with the Brookvale hill one of the biggest in the league.

However based on size, it's unlikely the capacity of the ground would be any bigger than Kogarah.

It comes as the Wests Tigers opted to move their round-eight home game from Campbelltown to Bankwest Stadium in the interest of welcoming more fans.

"It allows over three times the number of loyal and passionate members the chance to watch us live for the first time this year," chief executive Justin Pascoe said.

Bankwest Stadium will be able to have around 7,500 fans - almost double that of suburban grounds.

McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle will be able to have almost 8000 with its big stands, while ANZ Stadium and the SCG can have 10,000.

Fans will be seated in alternate rows in grandstands, leaving every second row empty and two seats between each group of people.

Out of NSW, the ACT Government will have Canberra start slowly with between 1000 and 1500 fans at GIO Stadium before building on that.

Suncorp Stadium can have 10,000 fans in Brisbane, while both the Gold Coast and Townsville can have around 6000 people in their fully-seated stadiums.

Clubs are still determining how to decide what members are invited to matches, with the most likely option ballots or rotating through members.

Canterbury chief Andrew Hill emailed ticketed members last week to promise a credit onto next year's membership for matches they cannot attend in 2020.

Others are likely to consider similar options.