Brisbane expansion club richer than the Broncos
The Brisbane Firehawks are ready to enter the NRL as an $80 million financial powerhouse that has claims to being richer than the Broncos.
The battle to become Brisbane's second NRL team is heating up after the Firehawks officially launched their expansion bid at Easts Leagues Club on Tuesday.
With 105 years of history behind them, the Firehawks believe they should be handed the NRL's 17th licence in 2023 and have the bank balance to survive and thrive.
Firehawks CEO Brian Torpy said the Easts group boasted $55 million in assets, no debt and had $25 million in cash to support the bid.
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Regarded as one of the NRL's richest clubs, the Broncos own a $27 million headquarters at Red Hill and reported $16 million cash in the bank this year.
The Firehawks will begin construction on a $7 million Centre of Excellence at Langlands Park in October which will house the NRL team's operations if the bid is successful.
Given the Gold Coast Titans were on death's door after only five years in the NRL, financial sustainability will be a key component in deciding which bid team secures admission.
The Redcliffe Dolphins have boasted about being a $100 million operation, but the Firehawks are ready to challenge them and the Brisbane Jets in the expansion fight.
"We are strong," Torpy said.
"We've got $55 million in assets, $25 million cash in the bank and no debt.
"Some organisations can struggle when they start up. To have that sort of working capital behind you is invaluable.
"People don't realise that because we don't go beat our chest about it, but we are very financial.
"The Firehawks model is cash positive for the first couple of years.
"We're also looking to put commercial tenants in here as well so we will have a commercial rental stream come in that is independent of gaming."
The Firehawks have promised to produce a "revolutionary" bid and have enlisted a digital consultancy business - Rich Digital - to help with their proposal.
Intimate details of the bid could not be revealed due to an NRL confidentiality agreement, but the club will target the Logan-Ipswich-Toowoomba zones as development hot spots if successful.
That is the proposed location of the Jets bid, but the Firehawks believe they have what it takes to become Queensland's fourth team.
"Brisbane is a massive place - there are 2.5 million people in greater Brisbane," Torpy said.
"That's well and truly enough to support two sides and with enough player participation and fan base.
"We would like to look at having the southern side of Brisbane and Logan. If the Jets aren't successful in their bid we'd like to work in the Ipswich corridor as well.
"We are also meeting with the Central Queensland Capras on Friday, they have the biggest junior base in Queensland.
"We were in the top league in Queensland before the Broncos came in and had Brisbane, Queensland and Australian representatives.
"We want to be back there again and we think we can. We have the capability to get back there.
"We'd love nothing more than to see the next State of Origin player come out of Langlands Park."
Former South Sydney Rabbitohs football chief Shane Richardson is playing a key role in the Firehawks' bid.
Richardson has long ties to Easts, now playing as the Brisbane Tigers, and said the Firehawks would generate enormous interest in Brisbane and give the Broncos a genuine cross-river rival.
"The Broncos are a smart business, they're on a little downer at the moment but they understand competition is good for the game," he said.
"I haven't seen them come out and talk against it. If they pack the stadium for the Gold Coast Titans imagine when they're playing a second Brisbane team at Suncorp Stadium. It's nothing but a positive.
"Why does Holden put a car yard next to Ford and next to Toyota? They trust that they will be able to compete. You get to sell what's best if you're good enough.
"This is a club with 105 years of history - it's unheard of. It's also a club that is unbelievably solid financially."
The NRL will make a decision on expansion in July.
Originally published as Brisbane expansion club richer than the Broncos