THE AFL is coming to town next year.
Morwell Recreation Reserve was named host venue for a twilight St Kilda v Essendon NAB Challenge match on 7 March, in a pre-season fixture list featuring regional and suburban Victoria.
This year Morwell played host to a VFL clash between Richmond and Collingwood, and AFL Gippsland region manager Travis Switzer said this would be bigger again.
“It’s great for footy fans in Gippsland being able to see AFL players play in Morwell,” Switzer said.
“It’s been a long time coming for people in Gippsland, they have been wanting another AFL game.
“It’s going to be great for fans and I think especially for kids who can access the players, get up close and personal with the players in their own backyard.”
The fixture comes as a result of lobbying from Latrobe City Council in conjunction with AFL Gippsland.
“Full credit must go to Latrobe City Council who has been negotiating with the AFL to see a NAB Cup game return to Morwell,” Switzer said.
“The Morwell Recreation Reserve is Gippsland’s premier sporting oval and Latrobe City Council has invested considerable funds over recent years, including a redevelopment of the playing surface, to ensure it can host games of this high quality.”
Mandurah, Port Lincoln, Townsville and Ballarat were among the other regional centres to receive pre-season matches in the fixture released on Tuesday.
Latrobe City mayor Sharon Gibson said it was a great outcome for the region.
“The last match held in Latrobe City back in 2010 attracted more than 8000 fans and we hope to see an even bigger crowd in 2015, as fans flock to our region to see two popular Victorian teams play,” Councillor Gibson said.
“The events team at council has worked hard to secure this high-profile event for our community, which will provide a valuable opportunity to bring new people into Latrobe City, showcase our fantastic facilities and provide an economic boost to local businesses.”
The opening bounce at Morwell will be 4.40pm on Saturday, 7 March.
Foxtel will broadcast the game on television nation wide.