Lions in danger of losing AFLW stars
BRISBANE'S AFLW side is under siege with the State Government's reluctance to commit to a new boutique stadium at Springfield exposing it to interstate poaching raids.
It is understood six Victorian clubs and the Gold Coast Suns, who submitted bids to the AFL to be included in the expanded AFLW competition for 2019, included teams in their proposals that were littered with Lions players.
Several Victorian clubs had star utility Kaitlyn Ashmore listed as their marquee player. It is understood the glamour girl has already toured Geelong's facilities.
Brittany Gibson and Jessica Wuetschner also feature prominently in some submissions.
Lions AFLW chief executive Breeanna Brock said that without a boutique 10,000- to 15,000-seat stadium, which would be adjoined to the club's new training and administration base at Springfield, the Lions would struggle to retain their best talent and also grow their fan and corporate supporter base.
The Lions currently play out of Brendale, which is only expected to cope with home-and-away crowds for another season.
The heat of February means the games there are scheduled at 10am because there are no suitable broadcast-quality lights, which costs the Lions free-to-air TV exposure.
The venue is also unsuitable for finals.
"It is critical, there are big implications for us in player retention and the development of our football program," Brock said.
"We just want to feel like we have a home so we can move forward as a club."
The Lions are already in negotiations to sell a home game to Tasmania next year.
The State Government jumped on board the Lions as they went undefeated through the inaugural AFLW home-and-away season before losing the grand final to the Adelaide Crows.
But that has not led to a solid funding commitment.
Sports Minister Mick de Brenni again stopped short of guaranteeing funding when asked by The Courier-Mail this week.
"The government is continuing high-level talks with the AFL and the Lions about ways of working together to support the continued growth of the game across the state," he said.
"Supporting the growth of women's sport is a key focus of sports investment for the Palaszczuk Government."
Brisbane has already secured $40 million towards the training and administration base.
Springfield Land Corporation has committed $18 million and offered an annual peppercorn lease of $1 for the land, the AFL has agreed to pitch in $10 million and the Ipswich City Council $12 million.
That money all goes to the training and administration base, which would be the first in Australia to be specifically designed as a shared venue for the women's and men's teams.
The Lions are now after $30 million in additional funding, to be shared between State and Federal governments, to build the boutique stadium and erect broadcast-quality lighting.
Lions chairman Bob Sharpless was in Canberra again this week pushing the club's case.