Big windfall predicted from Wellington AFL match

AFL fans in New Zealand have been given another chance to roar in Wellington.

AFL team the Brisbane Lions will play St Kilda in the second Anzac Day clash to be held at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium next year.

This year’s Anzac Day match, between St Kilda and Sydney, was the first AFL premiership game outside Australia.

It gave the capital’s economy a $9 million boost by packing the stadium with 22,546 committed and curious fans.

Alongside former Wellington City councillor John Morrison, Wellington businessman and St Kilda’s New Zealand manager John Dow was a key figure in setting the fixture up.

Mr Dow said yesterday he expected even more fans to cross the ditch to see the match this time in what is expected to become an annual event.

“The research we did is very, very positive – we got 5000 this year from Australia and we would have got more if we hadn’t run out of flights,” Mr Dow said.

Virgin Australia is a major sponsor of the AFL and Mr Dow said other airlines were also in talks to put on extra flights.

A report commissioned by the AFL said as many as 10,000 Australians could attend next year.

Mr Dow said the capital could expect up to 7000 Australians would come over for the 2014 match and that those travelling from outside Wellington would also increase significantly.

This year 1.4 million Australians watched the match and Mr Dow said media coverage in Australia had been “fantastic.”

“The whole Anzac concept is working brilliantly. The interest is not going to drop away as far as we’ve seen. This whole thing is evolving and it’s going to become another iconic event for Wellington.”

The match would be played on a Friday in the week after Easter, putting it in the middle of an extended holiday period and freeing up more people up to travel, he said

The next day the Central Pulse are playing the Melbourne Vixens at Wellington’s TSB Arena, which would add to the overall sporting spectacle.

The Brisbane Lions last played in Wellington in 2001.

*Originally published by the Dominion Post