EACH time the Lions women’s side runs onto the Brighton Homes Arena in Springfield you can rest assured one local will be in the stands watching on with his chest pumped out and a contented smile on his face.
Bob Sharpless, the man who established Springfield City with Maha Sinnathamby, has every right to boast that he was the driving force behind the AFL’s glamour club’s decision to establish their headquarters in the area.
Sharpless worked tirelessly behind the scenes from 2006 to bring the Lions to his town.
Although his all consuming role in growing Springfield City Group saw him working seven days a week he even agreed to take on the role as Chairman of the Lions in 2013.
It enabled him to promote the benefits of the club coming to Springfield where vacant land had been put aside years before for a major sports project.
Many times the idea of the Lions building a $80m stadium and elite training centre in Springfield looked doomed.
A previous Federal Government reneged on its funding promise and other sites were strongly promoted north of Brisbane including a greenfield area near the airport.
The final decision to come to this area was stamped at a Lions Board meeting which Sharpless didn’t attend.
He didn’t need to; key directors had already been persuaded by him that the only choice had to be Springfield.
Since opening their headquarters last year, the Lions have been charging ahead.
Sharpless said the move to Springfield had totally changed the financial position of the footy club for the better.
“They’re generating profits, their membership’s very strong, and in under 12 months, they played in an AFL grand final which they hadn’t done for 19 years,” he said.
Brisbane Lions CEO, Greg Swann, endorsed the former club chairman’s comments saying the move to Brighton Homes Arena had been great for the club.
“For the first time in the club’s history we have the men’s and women’s football programs, and all our administration under the one roof,” he said.
“We want to be a destination club for players and staff so having access to these facilities is a key part of our long-term planning.
“The local community is rallying behind the Lions with memberships growing, crowds for our AFLW team building and there’s more local kids with a Sherrin in their hand which is great to see.
“We’re planning for 2024 now and we’ll be focused on greater community engagement with schools, businesses and community groups across the wider Springfield region moving forward.”
The facts strongly support Swann’s comments with the Lions now boasting a record membership of 54,676 and stunningly the second largest membership suburb is now Springfield 4300, only Coorparoo has more Lions members.
“Just to have a home, to be able to train in the one spot, have all your gear in one spot, have your gym in one spot – it’s massive.”
“The football team were like nomads until they moved to Springfield,
“Pre-season was always about trying to find an oval and that varied from Coorparoo, Yeronga, Morningside … because the club didn’t have access to the Gabba as it was being used for the cricket.
“The facilities they have are now the best in the competition, whereas what they had before, those facilities were a long way short of best in the competition.
“I’m just thrilled to have such a high profile sporting team calling Springfield home.”