Dolphins to join NRL in 2023, with Moreton Daily Stadium to host games
The Redcliffe Dolphins have officially been granted a license to join the NRL competition in 2023 and the club could potentially play home games at three stadiums.
The Dolphins will become the 17th team in the NRL, beating rival bids from the Brisbane Firehawks and the Brisbane/Ipswich Jets, with the announcement made on Wednesday.
The competition will expand to 26 rounds, with every team continuing to play 24 games during the regular season, with the total number of games increasing from 192 to 204, with teams receiving two byes each.
While the Dolphins will play the majority of their home games at the 52,500-capacity Suncorp Stadium, some home games will be played at Moreton Daily Stadium at their Redcliffe headquarters, as well as Sunshine Coast Stadium.
Formerly known as Dolphin Stadium, the redevelopment of Moreton Daily Stadium was completed last year with its new northern grandstand increasing its seating capacity to 10,000, while there’s room for an additional 1500 in standing room.
The Dolphins Leagues club is located adjacent to the ground and boasts some 40,000 members, while the club owns the land the stadium and surrounding shopping precinct is located on, reported to be valued at $100 million.
Located 50 minutes north of Brisbane, the stadium originally opened in 1979 and the first stage of its major redevelopment to make it NRL-ready was completed in 2016 with the 3500-seat western grandstand. The eastern stand followed in 2018 before the most recent addition was completed in September last year.
The club is hopeful of adding broadcast-quality lighting and it’s expected the NRL license will make this a reality.
As well as serving as home of the Dolphins QRL side, Moreton Daily Stadium is the current home ground of A-League team Brisbane Roar, while a number of NRL games were relocated there this season, adding to the pre-season NRL games it has hosted previously.
When the Dolphins launched their bid in September last year, they announced that as well as Suncorp, they'll also play games at Sunshine Coast Stadium, which itself is mooting further upgrades and has hosted several NRL games over the past two seasons.
“Today is an exciting moment in the history of our game. The NRL Telstra Premiership will expand to 17 teams in 2023 and on behalf of the Commission I would like to congratulate The Dolphins on being granted the 17th licence,’’ ARLC chairman Peter V'landys said.
“Rugby League is part of Queensland’s DNA and to have 4 teams based in Queensland will further strengthen our game as the No.1 sport in the State,’’ he said.
While the Redcliffe Dolphins will continue to play in the QRL competition, the Redcliffe name is expected to be dropped from the NRL team, with the Brisbane or Moreton Bay Dolphins names possibilities.
The club has announced today that master coach Wayne Bennett will coach the Dolphins on a three-year deal from 2023.