Three venues to pick up MCG games

Austadiums   |  Tuesday 28th June 2005

The AFL will use just three grounds to host the matches that have to be shifted from the MCG in 2006 to cater for the Commonwealth Games.

Around 15 matches will have to be moved from the MCG during the first six rounds next year while the athletics track is removed following the Commonwealth Games in late March.

The AFL is currently compiling its 2006 home-and-away fixture but chief executive Andrew Demetriou, speaking exclusively to afl.com.au, said only Telstra Dome, Launceston's Aurora Stadium and Carrara on the Gold Coast would be used to stage the matches that cannot be played at the MCG.

The league will not play any extra matches in Sydney, Adelaide, Perth or Canberra while it has also resisted using either Geelong's Skilled Stadium or Carlton's Optus Oval to stage matches that can't be played at the MCG.

"No doubt we will play additional games in Tasmania and they will be at Launceston because we have made a commitment to the Tasmanian Government that we will play all our games in Tasmania at Launceston," Demetriou said.

"And the other games will be at Carrara and Telstra Dome and I don't imagine we will have to move any more."

Carrara - the former home of the Brisbane Bears - hosted 61 AFL matches from 1987-92, but has not been used for an official game since Brisbane moved to the Gabba in 1993.

But the ground attracted a crowd of 16,000 for a practice match between Brisbane and Essendon this year and given the huge population growth in south-east Queensland in the decade since Brisbane moved away from the Gold Coast, the AFL believes playing home-and-away games at Carrara will be a success.

The ground is expected to host two matches next year but Demetriou said the league had yet to decide which teams would be involved.

A further two games are expected to be moved to Launceston, which is likely to host six games next year instead of the current four, with one of the extra games likely to be another Hawthorn home game, while the other is expected to be hosted by one of the other MCG co-tenants.

The other games will all be transferred to Telstra Dome, which as a result is expected to host more than 50 games next season.

Demetriou said with so many public holidays early in the 2006 season during the period the MCG is unavailable it meant the league could play more games at Telstra Dome - which is likely to host matches over as many as four days in the Easter and Anzac Day split rounds next year.

And Demetriou said he was confident the ground's often maligned surface would be able to cope with the extra workload.

"We have been in discussion with the stadium and they are pretty confident with the turf replacement program they have got they will be fine," he said.

"There has been a lot of traffic on the ground this year and it seems to be holding up well."

Paul Gough
AFL.com.au

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