NRL experience proves priceless

AS the Penrith Panthers launched a charm offensive across the Bathurst region yesterday, it was easy to see why Bathurst Regional Council lobbied so hard to bring the NRL stars to town.

Council and Panthers have still not revealed just how much Bathurst paid for the right to host tomorrow’s National Rugby League clash against the Cronulla Sharks, but ratepayers have been told they’re getting a good deal.

The Western Advocate understands the price tag to bring the Panthers here for one game a year for the next five years is somewhere north of $1 million, but council, as the official promoter of the event, will get plenty in return for its investment.

First, council will collect income from ticket sales for the match and if Carrington Park is packed with around 10,000 fans tomorrow – as hoped – then that will just about cover this year’s outlay.

On top of that comes the hire of corporate facilities at the ground, plus the rights to use Panthers’ stars in some council promotional material.

Then there’s the live-to-air TV coverage on Fox tomorrow afternoon and the income generated throughout the town as league fans from across the Central West and Blue Mountains take the chance to catch an NRL match in their own backyard.

Many of those fans will spend the night in Bathurst and that will pump even more money into local pubs, clubs and restaurants.

Apart from the economic impact of the match, though, there is also the “feelgood” factor that has brightened a cold Bathurst week.

The excitement of local children when they got the chance to meet some of their league heroes yesterday was enough to melt the hardest of hearts. And you can’t put a price on that.

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