North Sydney Bears NRL return: Cricket joins forces with rugby league in unlikely alliance

The North Sydney Bears’ attempt to make an NRL comeback has received a massive cash injection from a rival code.

The North Sydney Bears have struck an unlikely alliance with Cricket for a project aimed at bolstering their bold NRL return bid.

Cricket NSW and the Bears have joined forces on a proposed $11 million redevelopment of the North Sydney Oval, to ensure the famous old site remains viable as a venue for elite sport.

The Bears are trying to play for the NRL’s 18th license and while the club have accepted that if they succeed they would need to be based outside of Sydney, they suggest playing at least a game or two a season at their traditional North Sydney Ovales House.

Cricket NSW believes North Sydney Oval is an important venue for the future of women’s cricket and has outlined a proposal to give the ground a “modest upgrade”.

“North Sydney Council and Cricket NSW have developed a joint proposal to protect the legacy and character of the Oval while strengthening its future – with a modest investment to ensure the site is a suitable venue for elite women’s sport in the 21st century .century,” Cricket NSW has published a prospectus outlining its plan to grow cricket over the next four years.

“As well as being the home of women’s cricket, the North Sydney Oval has previously hosted the Sydney Swans’ inaugural AFLW game and women’s rugby league matches.

“This proposed investment would not only support the growth of women’s sport at the venue, but also provide the North Sydney Bears with a viable venue for their respective NRL and NRLW licensing offerings.”

The Bears have been heavily linked with a return as the WA Bears from Perth, but officials are not committing to any offer and are open to partnering with any other hopeful licensing offers that may arise.

How the newly added Redcliffe Dolphins franchise fares as the 17th team in 2023 could have a big impact on when the NRL tries to even the draw and go to 18 teams.

As part of the North Sydney Oval proposal, both the Bears and Cricket NSW have pledged to each contribute $100,000, while North Sydney Council would provide $2.5 million.

The AFL would raise $50,000 and Northern Suburbs Rugby would raise $20,000, meaning an additional $8.5 million will be requested from governments to make the $11 million project a reality.

As part of the proposed upgrade, the North Sydney Oval would improve accessibility for spectators, as well as food, drink and toilet facilities.

Wooden bench seats in the old grandstands would be replaced with individual seating, while media and broadcast facilities would be improved.

The playing surface would be re-leveled and official facilities for players and matches would be improved, including permanent dugouts at the border for women’s cricket.

Originally released as the North Sydney Bears’ bold bid for the NRL return, it receives massive funding and an infrastructure boost North Sydney Bears NRL return: Cricket joins forces with rugby league in unlikely alliance

Ryan Sederquist

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