MELBOURNE will play two home matches in the Northern Territory next year, including matches in Alice Springs and Darwin.
It will be the fourth successive home game at TIO Traeger Park after Melbourne played Port Adelaide in the first home and away game in Alice Springs in 2014.
And it will be the ninth consecutive season Melbourne has played a home game at TIO Stadium in Darwin.
Melbourne will play the Adelaide Crows at TIO Traeger Park in round 10 on Sunday, May 27 at 2.50pm (ACST)/3.20pm (AEST). It will then host Fremantle at TIO Stadium in round 16 on Saturday, July 7 at 7.10pm (ACST)/7.40pm (AEST).
AFL general manager of clubs and broadcasting Travis Auld outlined the AFL’s commitment to take elite matches to all parts of Australia.
“To support the fact that Australian Football is a truly national game, it’s important to take the elite men’s competition matches to all states and territories,” he said.
“We are excited about playing two Northern Territory matches again this year and are committed to inspiring the next generation of men’s and women’s players by giving them the opportunity to see the elite game up close and in their backyards.
“I’d like to extend our thanks to the Northern Territory Government for their continued support of AFL, the Melbourne Football Club and in particular these matches,” he said.
Northern Territory assistant minister for sports and community events Tony Sievers said the Government was pleased the AFL was to return in 2018.
“We know that Territorians want to experience these types of events at home – it helps make the NT a great place to live and keeps people here,” said Sievers.
“It’s wonderful to have last year’s grand finalists Adelaide return to the NT for a second straight year. The NT Government has a great relationship with the Melbourne Demons and also the Crows through the AFLW competition. Fremantle fans will get their fix in Darwin with the likes of Nat Fyfe and our own Ryan Nyhuis taking to TIO Stadium,” he said.
AFL Northern Territory CEO Michael Solomon said it was great for football fans in the Territory to be able to have two Toyota AFL Premiership Season matches to attend in 2018.
“The announcement of the AFL games in the Northern Territory shows we are committed to building strong links between local communities, grassroots football and the elite level,” Solomon said.
“We have worked closely with the NT Government and with Melbourne to reach this agreement and to benefit both organisations, so we are delighted to be continuing relationships once again.
“Our gratitude goes to everyone involved including the Melbourne Football Club, the NT Government, the AFL and the people of AFLNT who have worked tirelessly to deliver this outcome.”
2018 Toyota AFL Premiership Season: Northern Territory fixtures
Melbourne vs Adelaide Crows
TIO Traeger Park, Alice Springs
Sunday, May 27, 2.50pm (ACST)/3.20pm (AEST)
Melbourne vs Fremantle
TIO Stadium, Darwin
Saturday, July 7, 7.10pm (ACST)/7.40pm (AEST)