AFL Match in NZ even closer
Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 09:45 am ACST
Contributed by: Rod Shaw
The AFL have formally backed the bid from NZ to host a Premiership game, subject to finances. With St Kilda keen to play next year in Wellington on Anzac Day two potential opponents have come forward in Sydney and Brisbane. With NZ backers John Morrison and John Dow at this year’s Anzac Game viewing a thrilling one point win from Collingwood over Essendon they couldn’t help but leaving even further impressed.
It would be the first premiership game played outside Australia and, as the proposed fixture starts to generate headlines in Melbourne, talks are continuing towards a long-term, strategic partnership between Wellington, St Kilda and the AFL.
Wellington City Council sports and events portfolio leader John Morrison, and businessman John Dow, are in Melbourne for three days of meetings with St Kilda and the AFL.
From the back page of todays’s Dominion Post newspaper in Wellington Morrison stressed how serious St Kilda and the AFL were about expanding into Wellington. "It really has been overwhelming in terms of their positive approach to it," he said. "The key really is both parties are talking about long-term relationships so it's not one-off, festival game stuff."
Melbourne's The Age reported Brisbane were frontrunners to play St Kilda in Wellington next year and the game now looks certain to go ahead. Morrison said Sydney were also keen to take part in next year's game and St Kilda had ambitions to play three of its home fixtures in Wellington each season, starting in 2014.
The cashed-up AFL, meanwhile, see Wellington and New Zealand as a potentially valuable market to tap into, at both a grassroots and professional level.
Interestingly for the future AFL development in the Wellington region according to Morrison "If it's all go the AFL intend to have up to two or three fully employed people in Wellington by Christmas. They're looking at schools, they're keen to work with government bodies, Sparc and Sport Wellington, to say that they're serious. After further meetings in Melbourne today, another delegation from St Kilda and the AFL will visit Wellington in a fortnight.
Morrison and the AFL are also talking about the concept of a multi-code, Melbourne-Wellington sporting extravaganza next year.
The Anzac Day AFL game could be followed by the Hurricanes hosting the Melbourne Rebels in a Super Rugby match and the Pulse hosting the Melbourne Vixens in the trans-Tasman netball league.
"We can't speak for the other sports but from a Wellington and tourism point of view, the city could be full of Aussies for four days," Morrison said. "In terms of the economic impact for the city, that could be colossal."
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