The esteemed Suncorp Stadium once again served as the venue for the flagship event this year and retains the rights for the 2024 edition. Queensland is eager to prolong this partnership, however, insiders, requesting anonymity owing to the sensitive nature of the discussions, have revealed to this publication that bids are forthcoming from the Western, and South Australian governments for post-2024 hosting rights.
The focus of the NRL will pivot to Perth on Saturday. Optus Stadium is slated to welcome a double-header, with import for the formation of the upper eight. A projected audience of around 50,000 is anticipated for the Dolphins–Knights and Rabbitohs–Sharks clashes.
The success of the upcoming crowd will bolster Perth’s chances of securing Magic Round and an NRL licence, even as PNG positions as leading contenders to become the 18th team of the tournament. The WA Government has a track record of vigour in bringing elite events to Optus Stadium. Last year alone saw it play host to four Premier League football teams, and two more this year; including the recent initiation match for new Tottenham Hotspur manager, Ange Postecoglou, in addition to State of Origin games, Bledisloe Cup match-ups, a cricket Test, and two exclusive Coldplay concerts scheduled for November.
Adelaide looks set to make an impressively robust submission, in light of successfully welcoming the start of the Origin series and the AFL’s maiden Gather Round this year.
John Sackson, the chief executive of WA Rugby League, is of the confident belief that if Perth were chosen to host a Magic Round it could serve as a springboard for its aspirations to become the NRL’s 18th franchise.
Sackson added, “I would love to have Magic Round in this city, I think it would really go off. It would be a massive turning point for the code here… Any event like this would enhance the chances for Perth and strengthen the foundations for the game here if Perth was to be awarded a franchise moving forward.”
The city is fully equipped to host an event of such a scale and has proven its ability to attract large numbers of visitors from across Australia with the State of Origin games that were played there.
Sackson stressed the potential of Magic Round to even draw a significant crowd from the East Coast and New Zealand and noted how mega-events such as Magic Round cast a national spotlight on the sport and its potential in Perth while helping to attract parents and Western Australian youth to engage with rugby league.
The Magic Round has taken place annually in Brisbane since its debut in 2019 (apart from 2020 due to Covid) and attracts approximately 130,000 fans (nearly half from other states) over three days with an estimated economic impact of $28 million on the city.
Spokespersons for Tourism Western Australia and the South Australian Tourism Commission have not responded to requests for comment as of publication.
In recent years, the NRL has shown a propensity for taking its marquee events on tour, even allowing one Origin game to be held outside of its traditional NSW and Queensland venues to interstate destinations including Adelaide, Perth, and Melbourne.
Last week, the NRL declared that its Grand Final would remain in Sydney for 2023, but no deal has been secured with the NSW Government beyond that. The NRL is seeking commitments of hundreds of millions of dollars for suburban stadium renovations in exchange for a long-term understanding to keep the rugby league finale in Sydney.