AFL China game canned as the Giants and Bombers look to LA

Austadiums   |  Wednesday 4th March 2020

The AFL has announced the inevitable and officially called off the China game, with the St Kilda v Port Adelaide clash relocated to the Saints home ground, Marvel Stadium.

Meanwhile, it has been revealed the GWS Giants and Essendon are in talks to play a game for premiership points in Los Angeles as early as 2022 – read more below.

The coronavirus has had an impact on sport around the world and especially in China, where the virus originated, with events including the Chinese F1 Grand Prix also postponed.

The annual AFL match in Shanghai was scheduled for Sunday 31 May and will now be played the following round, in round 12 on Sunday 7 June at 5:40pm AEST.


2020 was to be the fourth successive match for premiership points at Jiangwan Stadium, but the event will now take a year off and the AFL hopes to return in 2021.

Crowds for the China game have been slightly disappointing, with 10,118 in attendance in 2017 and 10,689 in 2018 between Port Adelaide and Gold Coast, and just 9,412 last year for the first match between the Power and Saints.

The capacity of Jiangwan Stadium was previously listed by the AFL as 12,000, however the crowds at the games appeared to be less than the official attendance figure, with the grandstands clearly less than half full. The league was planning on reducing the size of the temporary grandstands for this year’s event, with the capacity listed as 10,000.

It was reported the relocated would mean a $700,000 hit to St Kilda’s bottom line, while Port Adelaide would also be financially impacted, and the AFL had hoped the Queensland government would chip in to host the game in Cairns.

Instead, the game has been shifted to Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium and the Victorian government is paying the clubs for the right to host the game.

The government won’t say how much taxpayer money has been used to secure the match, but it plans to use the relocated match to promote Melbourne’s Chinese businesses doing it tough.

Essendon and the GWS Giants are pitching to play an AFL game for premiership points in Los Angeles or San Francisco as early as 2022 it has been revealed.

The match would be a Giants home game and would be played either to launch the season or during the mid-year bye rounds and kick-off at around 8pm to ensure a twilight TV slot into Australia’s eastern states.

Other than China, the AFL has also previously played game for premiership points in New Zealand (at Sky Stadium), while pre-season and exhibition games have also been played in Dubai and London. Essendon has also previously investigated playing games in India.

A venue for such a game is a mystery however, with none mentioned by either club at this stage, and no obvious contenders. NFL Stadiums (including the 49ers Levi’s Stadium and the Rams new SoFi Stadium) are too small, as are MLB Stadiums (such as the Giants’ Oracle Park and Dodger Stadium) – at least without significant work. The Rose Bowl, which the then-VFL investigated playing games at in the late 1980’s, also has a playing surface far too small for Australian Football.

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