Cronulla Sharks chairman Dino Mezzatesta says the prospective redevelopment of Shark Park is on the agenda with the hope of attracting events to the stadium year round.
With the Sharks different to most NRL clubs given they own their own ground, Mezzatesta believes it is time Cronulla implemented their own stadium strategy designed to carry the club into an exciting new future.
Mezzatesta confirmed the Sharks were still interested in playing host to potential A-League and W-League club Southern Expansion and said the club would open its doors to Sydney FC if they were interested in using the Woolooware venue when Allianz Stadium undergoes its redevelopment.
“[Redeveloping Shark Park] is on the agenda. The NRL stadium strategy determines what we do. It would be remiss of us to do something without knowing what the game’s direction will be in the future,” Mezzatesta said.
“[Our ground] is a big part of our investment strategy. We need to be very clear and precise. We should be thinking about the next 10 to 15 years and beyond [because] we own our own stadium.
“We need to look at [redevelopment], absolutely. Our asset utilisation needs to be far greater than 12 times per year. We need to be thinking beyond that and have the stadium work harder for us. To achieve that we need to rethink our positioning. It will take money and a strategy. There is continual talk about the opportunity to put more content out of that stadium and more opportunities to increase visitation.
“We’re entertaining all conversations, we won’t discard anyone. We’d love to talk to Sydney FC. We’re talking to Southern Expansion but we haven’t confirmed anything just yet.”
There has been plenty of change to the club’s leadership team over the last year starting with Mezzatesta’s appointment in May after the resignation of Damien Keogh following drug charges.
Former Tradies general manager Tim McAleer was appointed as leagues club CEO in November with former player Barry Russell announced to replace Lyall Gorman as football club CEO last month.
The club will hold board elections later this month but Mezzatesta, the Star Sydney chief operating officer, is hopeful the club’s new leadership team will provide the stability to take the club into the future.
“It was intentional that we took our time [appointing McAleer and Russell] because stability is important for our future,” Mezzatesta said.
“We spent time and effort to put the right people in the right disciplines. Right across the entire business we now have stability and people who share our passion for success.
“It’s an exciting time for the club at the moment with the completion of the residential development. The retail and club development is another big piece, we’ve got state funding for the centre of excellence and we’re exploring potential locations. We’re looking at our stadium strategy, we’ve put our name in for one of the six women’s [NRL] licences because we’ve been a pioneer when it comes to women’s pathways. Our overall investment strategy is sound and secure.
“At the moment we’re very strong with a massive amount of potential. We’re well positioned, now it’s about how do we execute those plans. Some things take longer than others especially when it comes to something like stadium strategy but we’re exploring every avenue.”
The driving goal of Cronulla’s new leadership team is to make the club not just the best in the NRL but the best in Australia.
They are lofty ambitions, but not out of reach according to Mezzatesta.
“[Being leaders in Australian sport is] very high on our agenda. It’s a collective thing though,” he said.
“It’s not just winning one premiership. It’s everything from running the organisation, the education and welfare of the football staff, marketing.
“The club over its 50-year history has had many, many challenges. The people previously running the club need a lot of credit for putting the structures in place to deal with issues. We have the platform now to take the club to the next level.”