Contributed by: Peter Parry Monday, September 19 2005 @ 05:26 am ACST
Melbourne Lord Mayor (and Demons' number one ticket holder) John So is looking to extend Melbourne's sister-city relationship with the Chinese metropolis Tianjin through an exhibition game featuring the Demons, possibly as early as next year. So (born So Chun Sai in Hong Kong and a familiar figure in Melbourne's multicultural community) has discussed the idea with Tianjin mayor Dai Xianglong who is keen on providing the Demons with a stadium to exhibit Aussie rules football.
Tianjin has a population of 10 million and sits on the Golden Shore in northern China. It is the coastal gateway to Beijing and has seen strong economic development in recent years.
The following article is courtesy of Melbourne newspaper 'The Age' (original article available here[*1] ).
Demons make plans for those far away places
By Martin Boulton
September 19, 2005
SEASON 2005 is over for the Demons but already the club is looking ahead to next year, and to one away game — in China.
The club may play an exhibition match in Tianjin as early as next year after the Mayor of the city, Dai Xianglong, extended the invitation during a gala dinner to celebrate his city's 25th anniversary of sister city relations with Melbourne.
Melbourne Lord Mayor John So, who is the Demons' No. 1 ticket holder, is in China as part of the anniversary celebrations and hopes the proposal can get off the ground.
"Having Mayor Dai's support will open many doors to this idea in China," he said. "We see this as a long-term development program over three to five years aimed at creating a grass roots following in Tianjin and other Chinese cities."
He said that despite a lack of suitable grounds, a new stadium being built in Tianjin and other surfaces being prepared for the 2008 Olympics should create the necessary space to take football to a Chinese audience. "It is a tremendous opportunity we must grasp with both hands," he said.
Melbourne chairman Paul Gardiner said the club was firmly behind playing an exhibition match in Tianjin, and would meet this week to discuss the idea.