HomeAFLAFL announces three-year partnership with Suns and Demons to take premiership games to NT

AFL announces three-year partnership with Suns and Demons to take premiership games to NT

AFL announces three-year partnership with Suns and Demons to take premiership games to NT

The Australian Football League is embarking on an trailblazing new venture in partnership with Northern Territory Major Events, heralding a three-year commitment to showcase three matches in the NT each season from 2024 to 2026.

Under this agreement, the Gold Coast Suns will light up Darwin’s TIO Stadium with two games per season, while Melbourne Demons will bring the action to Alice Springs with an annual clash.

In the 2024 Toyota AFL Premiership, Gold Coast will face off against North Melbourne on May 11 (Round 9) and Geelong on May 16 (Round 10) in Darwin – the latter marking the kick-off of the Sir Doug Nicholls Round. On June 2, Alice Springs will play host to an Round 12 encounter between Melbourne and Fremantle at TIO Traeger Park.

The Demons’ connection with the Northern Territory dates back to 2010 in Darwin and since 2014 in Alice Springs, while the Suns made their Darwin debut in 2020.

Beyond the on-field action, teams will actively connect with the local community, participating in initiatives focused on game development and local engagement. This not only allows teams to experience the best of the Territory’s tourist attractions but also fosters a deeper connection between the AFL and its fanbase all over Australia.

“Darwin and Alice Springs are wonderful places to play and watch footy and we are thrilled to announce a new partnership with Northern Territory Major Events that will see us play in the Territory consistently over the next three years,” said Matthew Chun, AFL Executive General Manager Finance, Clubs and Infrastructure.

“Not only is this a fantastic opportunity for local fans to enjoy AFL games in their own backyard, but the matches also provide interstate fans a chance to escape the winter months and travel to the Territory to experience the best of what the Top End has to offer.”

Northern Territory Chief Minister, Natasha Fyles, seconded these remarks.

“The Territory Labor Government is making the Territory the best place for footy, festivals and fun,” Fyles said.

“Some of Australia’s finest AFL players have come from the Territory. Continuing our partnership with the AFL provides an avenue for Territorians to see elite sport in action without having to travel interstate, while also inspiring our next generation of footy stars.

“Many diehard fans will travel interstate to watch their team play in the Territory. There are more reasons than ever for Suns fans to head to Darwin, with the Territory’s biggest music festival, BASSINTHEGRASS, taking place just after their second game here.”

Gold Coast Suns Chief Executive Mark Evans conveyed his excitement, saying, “The NT has become our second home and we have taken pride in our ability to make Darwin a fortress where we play some of our best football. Territorians will have the chance to witness some of their homegrown heroes live in action at TIO Stadium.”

Gary Pert, CEO of Melbourne FC, expressed pride in being part of the ‘Heart of the Nation’ match and highlighted the strong connection the club has developed with Alice Springs over the past decade.

Other club executives, including North Melbourne’s Jen Watt and Fremantle Dockers’ Simon Garlick, shared their excitement about playing in the Northern Territory, recognising the unique and special experience it offers to players and fans alike.

The AFL’s expansion into the Northern Territory promises not only thrilling matches but also a celebration of the rich cultural and sporting heritage of the region.

Image credit: Flickerd

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