Albury Council has extended the olive branch to NRL powerhouse Melbourne Storm by proposing a long-term partnership that ultimately could lead to premiership matches being played at the redeveloped Lavington Sportsground.
City councillors attracted widespread condemnation last year when they rejected plans for Storm to train at the council-managed Greenfield Park to reboot their season following the COVID-19 lockdown.
Earlier in the day, Storm officials including newly appointed chief executive Justin Rodski were taken on a tour of the Lavington venue by mayor Kevin Mack and chief executive Frank Zaknich.
"It's a fresh start, fresh beginnings," Cr Mack said.
"A lot of things happen that we have no control over.
"It is what it is, but we are moving on. New CEO, new captain, new team and a new season."
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The yet to be signed-off partnership includes Storm playing regular trial games at Lavington, player visits to the city and building memberships locally.
Albury ratepayers contributed to an NRL match for premiership points at Lavington between Manly and Canberra in 2015 and other regional centres including Mudgee agreed to spending ratepayer dollars on bringing in matches.
Cr Mack said he was heartened by recent talks with NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro about the state government contributing cash to regional areas to lure major events.
"He proposed money for the BBL (cricket) game later this year and there is no reason why that can't be an ongoing discussion about rugby league," Cr Mack said.
"If you have long-term agreements with clubs you can actually lock in long-term agreements with government.
"If we go to the table with that ad hoc approach all the time we are always just hoping for the best.
"This particular facility stands out regionally across Australia and it has been designed for major events."
Mr Rodski said the Storm already had agreements in place to stage home games at its Melbourne base and another game in Brisbane.
"To bring a premiership game (to Albury) obviously would mean some discussions around our existing agreements with current venues," he said.
"But is certainly an option for the future we are happy to explore.
"We are always looking to reach as many people as we can.
"We came here obviously last year in an hour of need and it is great to be back."
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