BALLARAT City Council’s $337,000 sponsorship deal with the North Melbourne Football Club has ended.
However, the incoming council can renew the arrangement if it aligns with its community priorities.
It is also not expected to affect the $80 million Eureka Stadium proposal, with the council’s chief executive officer Anthony Schinck claiming the deal has boosted Ballarat’s bid for AFL games.
“It’s put Ballarat on the map as a destination for AFL,” Mr Schinck said.
This year, the council paid $150,000 for the Kangaroos to be a community partner, holding community camps and being involved with local organisations, such as Dragons Abreast and the Ballarat Specialist School.
It also paid $187,000 for season sponsorship, with the Ballarat logo featuring on North Melbourne Football Club banners and memorabilia.
An arrangement between Ballarat and the Kangaroos began four years ago with the Eureka Game between North Melbourne and Richmond.
The club became a community partner and played NAB pre-season practice games and one official NAB match this year at Eureka Stadium.
A practice game will be held in Ballarat early next year as part of the 2012 deal but details of this game are yet to be finalised.
“The purpose of the agreement to commit North Melbourne to coming to Ballarat was partly to promote the Eureka Stadium precinct,” Mr Schinck said. “We’ve still got a productive relationship with North but we will be reviewing all our sponsorship arrangements with the new council and see what aligns with its priorities.”
Mr Schinck said although the deal wasn’t cheap, it had tangible benefits.
“It’s been very successful in promoting Ballarat as an AFL destination, and every week Ballarat gets coverage.”
Mr Schinck said North Melbourne understood the planning cycle that councils use and that they had to be responsible to their ratepayers.
However, the long-term plan is still for the Kangaroos to play AFL home and away matches at Eureka Stadium once the precinct is developed, and they are still pushing their membership base in Ballarat as well as Hobart.
Mr Schinck said the club’s high-profile players, including Ballarat player Drew Petrie, had become advocates for the city.
North Ballarat Sports Club chief executive Mark Patterson said he didn’t think the end of the deal would affect the Eureka Stadium proposal.
“In my view, the stadium needs to develop anyway, regardless of which club or clubs are involved,” Mr Patterson said.
North Melbourne Football Club interim chief executive Cam Vale said the club’s membership had grown 10 per cent in Ballarat this year.