NRL boosts investment portfolio with Gambaro Hotel purchase

July 5, 2022
Clyde Mooney

The NRL has purchased the legendary Gambaro Hotel as part of investment plans to underwrite the future of Rugby League.

The Australian Rugby League Commission, the NRL’s controlling body, is implementing a strategy to invest in hard yielding assets, aiming to strengthen its balance sheet so it can foster, develop, extend and provide adequate funding for the sport. 

Purchase of Brisbane’s luxury Gambaro Hotel represents the Commission’s first investment toward the strategy.  

The Gambaros are perhaps the most iconic family in Brisbane f&b, and the true name behind their eponymous Hotel.  

While the NRL has bought the property and businesses, the family has been engaged on the ongoing operation in something akin to a joint venture.

“We are delighted with the sale of our Hotel after operating on Caxton St for over 60 years, and as a family we are equally as excited about the prospect of working with the ARLC in order to continue and grow the operation,” offered John Gambaro, who fronts the family’s business alongside his brother Donny and other siblings. 

The Gambaro incorporates a hotel, bar and dual restaurant, on Caxton Street, just blocks from Suncorp Stadium. 

Beginning as a fish ‘n chips shop more than six decades ago, the Hotel’s legend has grown well beyond its stature to become the ‘place to be’ for many of the city’s elite, including sports stars, politicians and celebrities. 

Renowned for its food, it counts extensive and flexible private function spaces and enjoys year-round trade. 

In 2014 it reopened following an extensive refurbishment, boasting 68 boutique accommodation rooms, which added to the Hotel’s awards collection, taking the QHA Awards’ Best New Hotel Accommodation the same year. 

It has since become the preferred place to stay during major events at the nearby Stadium, which hosts both the NRL and NRLW Brisbane Broncos Home games, eight of the Dolphins home matches from 2023, Men’s State of Origin and Magic Round.

This trade security, alongside wider Brisbane infrastructure and activity, such as the upcoming Olympics and Women’s World Cup Football events, ensure the Hotel’s long-term revenue security. 

Moving forward, the NRL has committed to upgrading the Hotel’s amenities, flagging potential to further expand the facility.

The association has also slated rebranding the accommodation as the NRL, which will be themed with rooms named after the game’s legendary players.

“Brisbane is enjoying wide-scale investor focus, given the many infrastructure projects underway,” suggests Glenn Price of HTL Property, who negotiated the sale with colleagues Nic Simarro, Brent McCarthy and Andrew Jackson from the Brisbane and Sydney offices. 

Agents declined to provide details beyond the stakeholder releases, indicating the sale price was consistent with comparable assets in “earnings profiles and prime commercial property” but sources suggest the price was north of $30 million.  

Future investment and endorsement by the NRL will undoubtedly bolster the asset’s book value and operation. 

“The ARLC were very focused upon acquiring an asset, which could in and of itself independently trade profitably over a sustained period, but importantly also one which could enjoy the benefits of new revenue creation following the activation of many levers the ARLC has at its disposal,” added Simarro. 


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