The ACT government has warned Canberra's premier sporting teams to "reduce costs to survive" the financial impact of a coronavirus shutdown.
The Canberra Raiders and ACT Brumbies were set to meet government officials this week to discuss their viability concerns as the sporting world comes to grips with empty stadiums and cancelled seasons.
It's likely the lack of crowds and associated staff required will significantly reduce the hiring costs of Canberra Stadium to ease Raiders and Brumbies headaches.
The government is also working with the GWS Giants to determine what will happen to their annual funding if they cannot fulfill playing and community requirements in the capital this year.
The NRL, Super Rugby and AFL and their respective clubs are facing the toughest period in history as they brace for crowd and sponsorship revenue to drop severely.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr is expected to announce details of a coronavirus stimulus package this week to help the economy.
Barr said the government would do what it could to support sporting teams at the same time, but added: "It's important to be frank at this time.
"This is a once in a century economic shock and no level of federal government or ACT government intervention will be able to fully offset the impacts of this global crisis on the sports industry.
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"The football codes and individual football teams will need to look seriously at significantly reducing their costs if they are to survive this.
"...The ACT government already has existing long-term multimillion dollar financial arrangements with both the Raiders and the Brumbies ... [and] will work with the clubs to do what we can to support them during this time. However, there will be many industry sectors that will be seeking financial support during this period."
The Raiders fear they could lose up to $4 million if they cannot have crowds at venues this year, while the Brumbies will also take a major hit. Limiting the Canberra Stadium costs would help ease the pain.
Raiders boss Don Furner said: "There's no security, there's no cleaning. It will be very, very minimal.
"That won't be a major issue. The hiring fee is only based on the number of people that come through the gates."
The NRL is considering radical quarantine implementations to protect players in bid to continue the season to meet broadcast deal requirements.
The Raiders will use a private jet to fly to and from the Gold Coast on Saturday for their relocated match against the New Zealand Warriors.
The Brumbies are in a holding pattern until Super Rugby bosses make a decision about the future of the competition and the potential of a new derby format to minimise travel risks.
It is hoped Super Rugby will finalise its plan by the end of the week to give players and fans something to focus on.
The government says it is happy for both clubs to use Canberra Stadium if required and will consider reducing the hiring costs given no fans will be able to attend.
"Presently, all sporting codes continue to reduce their fixtures and scale back plans for the 2020 season. The ACT government will work closely with the sporting codes to manage this together as best we can," Barr said.
"As the situation unfolds, the football codes, teams and the ACT Government will provide regular updates."
Almost all Canberra community sports have cancelled or postponed seasons, while the AIS has closed its doors to public visitors to become a high-performance refuge for athletes.
The Giants were scheduled to play in Canberra on April 3, April 26 and August 1 this season as part of a $23 million, 10-year deal with the government.
They are locked in negotiations to extend that partnership, but matches at Manuka Oval this year remain in the air as the AFL considers trimming its season to 17 games.
If the season is reduced, matches in Canberra could be shifted or cancelled given there is extra costs to ship in broadcast equipment for games which are unlikely to have crowds or provide an economic boost to the city.
"The AFL season has already been reduced to 17 rounds and will be severely disrupted. Decisions relating to the fixtures are yet to be made," Barr said.
"The question of games at Manuka Oval and payments to the Giants are matters that are being worked through that the moment."
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