An upgraded Cazaly’s Stadium in Cairns will host AFL matches between the Gold Coast Suns and the Richmond Tigers in each of the next three years.

Thursday, 30 September, 2010

The AFL, Richmond Football Club and Queensland Government today announced that they had formed a partnership that would see Toyota AFL Premiership Season matches played at an upgraded Cazalys Stadium in Cairns in 2011, 2012 and 2013. 

According to an AFL media release this morning, Richmond will play a home match against the Gold Coast Suns at the stadium every year for the next three years.

Speaking about the partnership, AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou highlighted the strong growth of the game in Far North Queensland and the importance of the region to developing new AFL talent, via the Gold Coast Suns Academy and the longstanding AFL programs run in Cape York.

“The AFL is very excited to be able to take premiership matches into Far North Queensland for the first time,” Demetriou said. 

“We are very grateful to the Queensland Government through Queensland Events as well as the Federal and local governments for providing the necessary funds to upgrade what is already a great place to play our game – Cazalys Stadium.

“Not only will an upgraded Cazalys allow us to play Toyota AFL Premiership Season matches between the Richmond Tigers and Gold Coast Suns in the region each year, but it will improve the training facilities for our talent, school and AFL Cairns programs run throughout the year”, he said.

Joining Queensland’s Sports Minister Phil Reeves in Cairns for the announcement today were Richmond Football Manager Craig Cameron, full forward and 2010 Coleman Medallist Jack Riewoldt, as well as Gold Coast Suns’ Chief Operating Officer Andrew Travis and their recent recruit Jarrod Harbrow. Jarrod grew up in Cairns and still calls it home.

Richmond Football Club football manager Craig Cameron was pleased to be in Cairns for the announcement. 

“We are really happy to be part of such a big step forward for our game in Far North Queensland.  To be able to take the Richmond brand into such an important market as well as provide a new experience for our young playing group is fantastic.

 “For us, it is the best of both worlds: it gives our fans in Queensland a chance to see us live and we have protected the rights of our members who will still have access to 11 games in Melbourne,” Cameron said.

Cazalys Stadium will be upgraded to bring the facilities for fans, players and officials up to AFL standards, including new change rooms and media facilities. Lights suitable for televised night games will be added in time for the 2012 match. 

With a total of $5 million in State and Federal funding, AFL Cairns will be responsible for working with the AFL, local council and other stakeholders to source an additional $1.7m to complete the total scope of works.

Andrew Travis from the Gold Coast Suns spoke about the warm reception the Club received for their VFL game and promotional visit in July this year.

“Everyone at the Suns is thrilled to know that we will be guaranteed a game in Cairns in our first three seasons. It’s a fantastic place to play football and we look forward to working with the community year-round to build our Academy program and to support the development of the game from the grassroots.

“I know that it’s important to our players too. We have four guys from Cairns in Jarrod Harbrow, Charlie Dixon, Rex Liddy and Lewis Moss, as well as Zac Smith from Rockhampton. For them to be able to play AFL football in front of family and friends is a great plus and something that all of the team gets a boost from. We love it up here and it sends a strong message to local athletes that AFL is a game they can now stay at home in Queensland and play,” he said.

The benefits to the region played an important part in discussions between the State Government and the AFL. 

Independent research by Wayne Street and Associates found that the economic impact of the games could be up to $5.6m over the three years for the Cairns economy. 

The research also found that over 1,840 interstate visitors, plus players, broadcasters, officials and other intra-regional tourists would come to Cairns for the game each year.

AFL Cairns will be running the matches, and any net revenue will be invested back into local AFL community programs.

In addition, this week the AFL announced that it would provide a further $100,000 in funding from the Grand Final Replay for the AFL Cape York Alliance for Education and Training. This will incorporate AFL Cape York House which will be a boarding facility for Indigenous youth from Cape York to be established in Cairns.

The AFL fixture for 2011 is due to be released at the end of October, and the date of the first game in Cairns between the Tigers and the Suns will be known then.

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