IN the lead up to its debut season in the Australian Football League (AFL), the Gold Coast Suns have marked strong corporate and community support.
With the backing of around 10,500 paid members and the cashed-up AFL, the code’s latest national franchise has hit the ground running.
“We are a true community-owned footy club, owned wholly by our members. The Gold Coast community has embraced that and that support has shaped us as an organisation,” says CEO Travis Auld (pictured).
“We’re not trying to force people to make choices between us and other codes; we’re representing the Gold Coast on the national stage. We’re proud of each of the teams on the Gold Coast and are providing another form of entertainment for the community.”
The $144 million redevelopment of Carrara Stadium into a 25,000 seat entertainment precinct is on schedule for completion in May. Already boasting the hottest young talent in the AFL, the new home ground will give the Suns a formidable landscape from which to pitch its prowess.
“The AFL made a conscious decision that if a 17th club was going to work on the Gold Coast, we needed access to the talent to form a competitive team. The roster we’ve been able to put together has some of the hottest young players in the country,” says Auld.
“For us, our development program is the primary gauge for the success of the Suns. If we can nurture and develop these young players into their full potential as AFL-footballers, the club will be in a great position for a long time. This involves constant work and innovation on and off the field.”
Having poached former National Rugby League (NRL) star Karmichael Hunt in a massive marketing coup, the strength of the Suns’ development program will truly shine if the ex-Brisbane Bronco stars on the oval paddock.
“Having played league at the absolute top-level and then rugby union in one of the top three competitions in the world (French Heineken Cup), Karmichael showed great courage to walk away from that and take on the AFL,” says Auld.
“Hunt is an important asset for us as he embellishes what the Gold Coast is all about. To do things people don’t think you can do and boldly punch above our weight.”
The club has also signed a partnership with Dreamworld as official entertainment partner.
Auld says the deal will allow The Suns to showcase one of the Gold Coast’s top tourist attractions as it focuses on promoting the Gold Coast culture and associating the city’s tourism icons with its brand.
Top Companies 2011 Profile: Gold Coast Suns
CEO: Travis Auld
Revenue FY11: $30 million+
Members: 10,500 (approx)
Inaugural season: 2011
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