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Historic Balmain Tigers Face Extinction Unless $250m Plan Can Save Them

BALMAIN Tigers are on the verge of collapse.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal that Balmain, who have won 11 first grade premierships, will die unless a $250 million redevelopment of the club’s licenced premises in Rozelle is approved early next year.

Rejection of the proposal would threaten Balmain’s 50 per cent share in the Wests Tigers joint venture and also leave 3000 junior players throughout the inner-city district without funding and a competition.

Tigers fans are planning a rally in the new year to drum up support for the redevelopment.

Balmain Leagues Club on Victoria Rd – which closed two-and-a-half years ago – now stands dilapidated and filthy, covered in bird droppings, graffiti, dead rats and syringes.

The redevelopment has been dragging on for 10 years, and now it heads before the state Government’s planning assessment commission.

Submissions of support for the redevelopment close this Monday.

The significantly revised proposal – called Rozelle Village – includes a child care centre, medical centre, housing and, of course, a new leagues club, which will house the Tigers football offices.

Premier Barry O’Farrell – the Wests Tigers number one fan – has kept silent on the issue.

“We are on our knees at the moment. This is just about the last throw of the dice,” said Paul Sironen, the champion forward who played 246 games for Balmain. “We don’t want to lose the Balmain name or our juniors.

“The club has been battling to get this through for years now. We need all the support we can get. I think this is the most important time in the club’s history.”

Over the 10 years of planning, more than 11,000 people have signed petitions of support for the redevelopment although previous proposals have drawn criticism from some members of the local community.

“Balmain was born in 1908 – it has such a proud history,” said 185-game Tiger Steve Roach.

“Surely they can come to some agreement otherwise the Balmain juniors will die and the Wests Tigers will battle.

“It has to be good for the area – it’s better than what’s there now. It looks like a war zone, it’s an eyesore. They have to do something with it.”

Balmain Leagues Club sent a letter to all members last week calling for support.

“The Balmain Tigers has been part of the local community for over 100 years and we want to be part of it for another 100 years,” said Balmain Leagues Club interim CEO Danny Munk.

Current and former Tigers players want support for the proposal from NSW Sports Minister Graham Annesley, a former NRL official and referee.


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