St George Illawarra officials are cautiously optimistic about packing WIN Stadium after confirming the Charity Shield will be played outside of Sydney for the first time in 30 years.
Organisers today confirmed Wollongong will host the traditional pipeopener to the rugby league season on February 22, relieving the Dragons and Rabbitohs of a stadium bind.
Rapper Eminem has been booked to perform at ANZ Stadium on Saturday 22 February - the only date available for the Charity Shield.
Dragons chief operating officer Michael McDonald confirmed there were several suitors for the traditional clash between the NRL heavyweights, but praised Destination Wollongong’s effort to bring the fixture south.
‘‘We’d certainly like to see the house full sign up,’’ McDonald said.
‘‘We’ve got great support in the Illawarra community and we’re very confident we’ll have strong support not only for this event, but all our events we have down here.
‘‘We didn’t have any flexibility to look at other dates [for ANZ Stadium] so all parties had to look at an alternate venue.
‘‘There were a number of venues which were in the frame for consideration, but ultimately we believed Wollongong was the best destination for the Charity Shield.’’
The Dragons and Rabbitohs will work on public transport initiatives to help their supporters travel down from Sydney for the clash.
The match is expected to be played in a twilight timeslot, avoiding a broadcasting stoush with the World Club Challenge, to be screened on Channel Nine later that night.
The Charity Shield shift will go some way to compensating the Dragons’ Illawarra-based fans, who have had their home game allocation slashed from six to four games in 2014.