Apart from the 18-point loss to Brisbane, North lost some public face at Docklands yesterday. In a bid to save money, the third tier was closed off to the public. It turned into a bit of a fiasco after North had the unusual problem of too many fans turning up, with late arrivals finding themselves shunted around the ground until deep into the first quarter. The humiliating fodder proved too irresistible for Caroline Wilson, writing a disjointed article highlighting North’s supposed woes in today’s Sunday Age.
The truth is, North have been forced into a no-win situation. Arocca and Brayshaw have stuck by their pledge to return North to its Melbourne roots, playing all 11 home games in Melbourne. But a crippling stadium deal continues to rape the club’s profits. So it makes sense to try to minimise match day losses.
Yesterday they took a calculated risk which backfired. Had stadium staff inacted the contigency plan effectively no-one would have cared. Instead, North are in the bad books, not just for giving their fans the runaround, but for sins of past administrations selling home games interstate for short-term gain. On a day when St Kilda and the Dogs did exactly this, I think it’s a bit rich.
In an exclusive to Roo Beauty, Eugene Arocca discussed this very issue earlier in the week. Arocca pointed out that, “even with the Stadium deal being the way it is I think it’s not good business to sell games interstate because of the impact on your members”. He believes North members have become accustomed to going to as few as five games a year because North played interstate so often.
Interviewed extensively by Rev. Shinboner (more on this soon), Arocca said, “We need to change that mindset and get them (supporters) back into being passionate about coming to the game … and I think that if you start selling your home games you start turning people away from Melbourne matches. I reckon we need to give ourselves a decent crack at eleven home games in Melbourne despite the pain, (and) in the long run it may bear fruit. And any selling games as has been seen by North Melbourne is pretty short-sighted, and on one view is a step towards relocation. So it is not part of our business planning to sell games interstate.”
As Arocca has been saying all along, it all gets back to the stadium deal. A good (or even average) deal and North are profitable. In the meantime, Arocca believes “the AFL needs to keep supporting us whilst we play at this stadium where we’re paying it off.” Seems fair enough to me.
So while the Dogs and Saints made around $400k each selling out their home-town fans, North lose money on a Melbourne game which attracts a bigger crowd than the other two combined. So how does North’s ‘mismanagement’ become the story of the day?