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Bulldogs abandon Liverpool

Published: Sunday 27th April 2003  |  More News

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The long-held dream of the Bulldogs relocating to Liverpool is officially over.

The club has started talks with the Sydney Olympic Park Authority to extend its contract to play at both Telstra Stadium and Sydney Showground, making the precinct the permanent home of the Bulldogs.

This is despite Liverpool Council recently announcing that the Oasis project, which will yield a state-of-the-art football stadium, will go ahead.

"We are in serious talks with Sydney Olympic Park Authority about our future, instead of Liverpool," Bulldogs chief executive Steve Mortimer said.

"Out of everything that's to be built (in Liverpool), I think the last thing is the stadium. I'd be surprised if it would be ready for 15 years. I'm not prepared to hold my breath for that long."

The Bulldogs have been floating between venues for the past decade and Mortimer wants the club to finally drop anchor at Homebush Bay.

A crucial factor in talks is the development of high-rise apartments and a town centre in the precinct. The Bulldogs are also investigating the possibility of establishing a licensed club in the area.

The club had looked at a return to Belmore Sports Ground, but costs involved were deemed too high.

"Since I came into the position, it has been about finding a long-term home," Mortimer said. "I see Sydney Olympic Park as a great opportunity.

"I think long-term it will be the No 1 address for sport in Australia."

The Bulldogs' vision of relocating to Liverpool was born in 1998, as inner-city clubs faced the prospect of rationalisation in Sydney.

It was partly the reason why the club dropped Canterbury-Bankstown from its name.

Initial forecasts had the Bulldogs playing out of a new $45m stadium at Liverpool, complete with retractable roof, by 2001.

The complex was tipped to rival Moore Park as Sydney's sporting showpiece.

The completion date was continually put back, and was delayed further by the Bulldogs' salary cap crisis last year, which involved the club using the $800m Oasis Sports and Entertainment project to illegally pay players outside the NRL's $3.25m cap.

Last last year the Bulldogs signed a five-year contract, with two one-year options, to play at Homebush Bay, but still outlined in the club's 2002 annual report a plan to play out of Liverpool.

The Oasis project has since been renamed Liverpool 2020.

The Bulldogs have played three times at Telstra Stadium this season, twice as part of double-header promotions.

In their only stand-alone match they drew 24,907 on a wet night for a match against Parramatta.

 

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