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Updated: 07/10/2009

Carrara on the Gold Coast

Bears on the Gold Coast Rubber stamp impression When Brisbane received the VFL License, it was assumed that the club would be based at the "Gabba" where the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) finals were played. Bankroller Christopher Skase had other ideas. He decided to base the Bears at Carrara, a Gold Coast hinterland suburb, about 65 Klms from Brisbane where a football ground the same dimensions as the MCG already existed. Initially this was thought to be a temporary arrangement. However Skase along with Paul Cronin, the chairman, reasoned that the Gold Coast would attract more Victorian visitors as well as already boasting a large ex-Southern population. The egg shaped Gabba and surrounding dog track were also less suited to football.
They successfully managed to get the QAFL and a large percentage of the Brisbane based football followers offside. This led to the total blackout of the Bears in the Brisbane media and the coining of such terms as "The Badnews Bears" and the "Carrara Koalas". The ground had temporary toilets, temporary change rooms, temporary offices, temporary grandstands and a temporary atmosphere. This led to poor performances both on and off the field. While some officials dined on food specially flown up from Melbourne, the supporters and players had few facilities.

The demise of Skase's Quintex empire saw players not paid and the club was on the verge of extinction. The AFL managed to convince Ruben Pelerman to buy the license. Mr. Pelerman had extensive hotel and hospitality businesses along with a private hospital. He had been very active in sports sponsorship in the past but the Bears became a bottomless pit. He quickly realised that private ownership of AFL clubs in Australia, with its small population and vast distances, was not financial and he looked to put the club back on a traditional membership based footing.

In 1991 the club played some home games at the Gabba and received enough support to convince the Queensland Government and Gabba trust that the Bears were a viable winter tenant. This led to the redevelopment of the ground and in 1993 the Brisbane Bears were eventually based in Brisbane.