AFL strikes new multi-year partnership with Northern Territory Major Events

The new arrangement between AFL and Northern Territory Major Events will see Gold Coast SUNS play two games in Darwin each season and Melbourne play one game in Alice Springs.

The Australian Football League (AFL) has announced a new partnership with Northern Territory Major Events, which will see a total of three matches played in the NT each season for the next three years.

The new arrangement, which runs from 2024 to 2026, will see Gold Coast SUNS play two games in Darwin each season and Melbourne play one game in Alice Springs.

Darwin will welcome Gold Coast SUNS at TIO Stadium for two consecutive games in the 2024 Toyota Premiership Season, as they will take on North Melbourne on May 11 in Round 9 and Geelong on May 16 in Round 10 to kick off the Sir Doug Nicholls Round. On June 2, Alice Springs will play host to AFL action in Round 12 when Melbourne plays Fremantle at TIO Traeger Park.

Melbourne has a lengthy history with the Northern Territory, having competed in Darwin from 2010 to 2013 and in Alice Springs since 2014, whereas the Gold Coast SUNS played their first premiership match in Darwin in 2020.

When visiting the region, teams will additionally interact with the community and participate in local engagement and game development initiatives, allowing them to experience and promote the best of the territory’s tourist attractions.

AFL Executive General Manager Finance, Clubs and Infrastructure, Matthew Chun, said, “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. 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, said, “The Territory Labor Government is making the Territory the best place for footy, festivals and fun. 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.

Meanwhile, many die-hard 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, said, “We are thrilled to once again have the opportunity to host back-to-back home games at TIO Stadium in Darwin for the next three years. 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.

Whether it’s a dazzling Malcolm Rosas Jnr goal, Joel Jeffrey’s freakish athleticism, Ben Long’s signature toughness or Lloyd Johnston’s blistering speed, there will be plenty for the home crowd to cheer.”

Melbourne FC, CEO, Gary Pert, said, “The Heart of the Nation match is one we’re incredibly proud to be part of. We have been visiting Alice Springs for a decade now, and as a club, have developed such a strong connection to the region. We consider Traeger Park a home away from home, and our players love nothing more than when they get the opportunity to play there.

We are looking forward to building on our meaningful relationships further in 2024, once again giving back and immersing ourselves in the local community. We can’t wait to bring our great game back to the Red Centre and give local fans another opportunity to see and meet their heroes.”

Geelong Cats CEO, Steve Hocking, said, “We welcome the opportunity to play for Premiership points in Darwin for the first time in the Club’s history and are excited to be part of the match up against the Gold Coast Suns that opens the AFL’s Sir Doug Nicholls Round.”

North Melbourne, CEO, Jen Watt, said, “In 2022, we were lucky enough to play at TIO Stadium for Premiership points and we’re thrilled to be returning to Larrakia Country to play in front of the Darwin community next season.”

Fremantle Dockers, CEO, Simon Garlick, said, “This is a fixture that we’re really excited about. To play Melbourne in the heart of the Northern Territory will be something special for our players and our staff.”

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