Giants Stadium has been hit by a Thunderclap.
Cricket’s rivalry with the AFL is normally over drop-in wickets but now a turf war is erupting in Western Sydney over a drop-in name.
GWS’s landmark announcement last week that they’d secured the naming rights for the Sydney Showground Stadium has hit a roadblock, with co-tenants the Sydney Thunder giving every indication they’ll refuse to acknowledge the title Giants Stadium as their home ground during the Big Bash summer.
The Royal Agricultural Society, which runs the venue at Sydney Olympic Park, said the Thunder stand to make more money from the Giants deal than they did under former venue sponsors Spotless, and remain confident of ultimately convincing the BBL franchise to play out of an AFL-branded stadium.
But behind the scenes the Thunder are adamant that won’t be the case.
Cricket NSW, who lead the Thunder’s negotiations, feel blindsided by the Giants’ arrangement with the RAS and argue the current financial cut being offered to them is not enough for them to give a rival code a free kick.
The Giants are determined for their name to be up in lights for 365 days a year and believe the Thunder have an inflated view of what their cut in the deal should be given the BBL lasts two months.
Unless the Thunder backflip on their staunch position the ground will revert to its clean name of The Sydney Showground Stadium for the BBL. But the RAS believe cricket will see the sense in agreeing to a deal.
“I’m pretty sure that a deal will get done it’s really just a matter of working out what that is in terms of dollars,” said Darryl Jeffrey, chief operating officer at the RAS.
“… A few weeks ago the Giants came to me and said how would we feel if the Giants were to take the brand rather than selling it to a commercial entity. We discussed that internally and ultimately were pretty happy with it.
“The (Thunder) would be giving up revenue (by not accepting) because they can’t go and sell it to anyone else.
“It’s a tricky thing because Cricket Australia, who ultimately are a partner in that deal, whether they are happy for a Big Bash team to be playing out of a stadium called Giants Stadium … but in the end I think a deal will get done because if they want to give up a bunch of cash out of principle it would be a bit silly I would think.”
It’s understood RAS are very much pushing the merits of the Giants’ case and are desperate to avoid the hassle of changing their signage and inventory between winter and summer. One of the appeals of Giants Stadium was it wasn’t a sponsor who could potentially conflict with partners involved with the annual Easter Show.
GWS announced last Friday that Giants Stadium would be recognised “throughout the year”, and privately feel the Thunder did no heavy lifting to find a naming rights sponsor themselves in the first place, and are now the Giants have a deal, are squabbling over as little as $50-80,000.
The Thunder say they would only change their minds if the financial incentive was drastically increased – which they don’t feel it will be.
“Discussions with the venue operators are ongoing but for now the home of the Thunder Nation is being referred to as Sydney Showground Stadium,” said Cricket NSW chief executive Lee Germon.
RAS are adamant that all parties – the Giants, Thunder and themselves – stand to make significantly more money out of the Giants deal spearheaded by anonymous private backers, than they have or would have out of a corporate sponsor.