Melbourne Storm has rejected an offer to relocate to Sydney and will instead stay in Albury until the team is allowed to train at its home base.
What (football director) Frank Ponissi has told me today, the NRL wanted them to come up to Sydney and train, he's informed the NRL they won't be coming to Sydney, they're going to stay in Albury," Quality Resort Siesta's Steve Jones said.
Storm players and staff are free to return home to their families this weekend, but will return for training early next week. Whether they stay longer will depend on Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews lifting the state of emergency during the coronavirus on Monday.
The Storm grabbed the nation's attention when Albury Council voted 5-4 against allowing the club to use the council-owned Greenfield Park, citing the possibility of a health risk.
Council's decision was the major talking point on both Sydney and Melbourne-based sports programs with Albury Thunder president Rick O'Connell launching a spirited defence on the club's Facebook page.
By 2.15pm yesterday, it had 607 likes and 136 comments - as astronomical figure for the sport in an AFL-dominated city, while it was also calling on the community to place streamers near the Siesta to show support for the Storm.
"I understand it looks like double standards and there's the health issue and, of course, nothing is foolproof, but all of a sudden we've got five individuals who think they know more than people we've put our faith in."
Member for Albury Justin Clancy said he certainly had empathy for all parties.
"I've raised concerns about the process and the opportunity to present to the community the benefits and the risks and how those risks would be managed," he said.
"We've done so well as a country through COVID, we've got to see this as having the Storm here is just another step towards recovery and let's just move forward together in that regard."
In his post, O'Connell spoke about a number of the benefits, including employment.
And the NRL powerhouse's controversial visit has provided a jobs lifeline for Lavington's Quality Resort Siesta.
"I can tell you I've got 23 people on JobKeeper (payments), they're all working now and some of the casuals, that weren't eligible for JobKeeper, I've been able to give some work to them too," Mr Jones said.
Prior to the Storm's arrival, the occupancy rate for April was 9 per cent. It's normally 70 per cent, during non-coronavirus times.
The Storm has lifted the rate to 50 per cent.
"We were only getting a few rooms a night, it was tragic," Mr Jones said.
"Thirty-seven years I've been here, it breaks your heart.
"The (Storm) boys have been very polite, the coaching administration, even the CEO (Dave Donaghy) has been to see us, they're all very thankful and we would definitely have them back at any time."