HomeInterviewExclusive: Sunshine Coast Lightning CEO On Storm Ownership And Growth

Exclusive: Sunshine Coast Lightning CEO On Storm Ownership And Growth

Sunshine Coast Lightning CEO Danielle Smith

Exclusive: Sunshine Coast Lightning CEO On Storm Ownership And Growth

Following the announcement last week Melbourne Storm have taken a 100% ownership stake in Sunshine Coast Lightning, Lightning CEO, Danielle Smith, spoke with Ministry of Sport on what the move means for the future of the club.

Smith, who was recently named sports administrator of the year for 2021 at the QSport awards, explained how the ownership change will influence the club in the short and long term.

“Immediately, the changes are the ownership split, with what used to be a 60-40 split between Storm and USC now being a 100% ownership for Storm,” Smith told Ministry of Sport.

“There will be a change in the board of directors, we’re finalising that structure and will announce the new board members next week, and USC has become a principal partner of the club.

“On a day-to-day basis, there are no immediate changes, we continue to train and play out of USC Stadium and our office is there.

“It’s probably more about what it means for us in the future, particularly in line with our growth strategy going forward.

“Some of the things are that we have an opportunity with the two clubs together to leverage it a bit more.

“Storm’s size of course can help fast-track Lightning’s growth over the club, particularly around things like our digital audience, Storm provides us access to a much larger market, and that’s across commercial properties as well.

“It enables us to leverage that connection a bit more in the future, we’ve got a big focus on leveraging the expertise across both teams and sharing resources.

“We were aiming to do that anyway, but COVID meant we had to concentrate on our own clubs and get them through their respective seasons, but this is a great opportunity now that we can do more work together.

“We’re looking at more shared services across the group with such things as our membership and ticketing, which has been a bit of a hybrid to date,” she said.

When asked about the value Storm receives with being so closely aligned with Lightning and the Sunshine Coast region, Smith said: “Sunshine Coast is a really important region for Melbourne Storm, it’s rugby league heartland, they’ve got two feeder teams in Queensland with one of them being the Sunshine Coast Falcons and all the recruitment pathways up here.”

“It is a really strategic area for Storm so they will continue to build on those relationships.

“The real kicker is the success the club has had, and it has been built on similar values, and it provides a real genuine investment into women’s sport for Melbourne Storm, so it provides that diversity across the group.

“All those things come together as a very unique offering for the group to have clubs in two different codes, two genders, two different states, one capital city, one regional area, combined it makes for a really strong brand reputation and a great value proposition,” Smith told Ministry of Sport.

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