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Qld Government locks in deal to relocate AFL clubs to Cairns

12 August 2020

Aerial of Cairns city

The Palaszczuk Government has locked in a deal with the AFL that will see two clubs relocate to Cairns for a three-week period.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today announced the Fremantle Dockers and the Sydney Swans would temporarily relocate their players and staff to Cairns, in a move that will see a number games played at Cazalys stadium during rounds 15-18 of the AFL season.

Matches will include both Fremantle and Sydney as well as a number of opponents flying into Cairns, including Melbourne who will themselves play two matches at Cazalys stadium during this period.

The Premier said it’s good news for Cairns and the AFL.

“We know the Cairns economy has been hit particularly hard by the global pandemic,” the Premier said.

“Having two teams plus officials and support staff based in the city provides an obvious economic benefit.

“I hope Queenslanders will travel to Cairns to see the teams play and that fans will enjoy seeing the game played in the Tropical North.”

Tourism Minister Kate Jones said the deal inked this week would pump millions of dollars into the city’s economy.

“This is a first for Cairns. We’ve never seen so many AFL Premiership games here in one season. The eyes of sports fans across Australia and around the world will be on Cairns. This is a huge boost for the local community,” Ms Jones said. 

“These teams have huge appeal in three of our most important domestic tourism markets.

“Having the Dockers and Swans based in Cairns will provide vital publicity for the Far North in the weeks and months to come.

“This exposure is vital when it comes to rebuilding our economy and supporting local jobs.”

Member for Cairns Michael Healy said today’s announcement would provide a great boost for the region’s economy.

“Having these teams relocate to Cairns for three weeks will pump millions of dollars into the local economy and support jobs,” he said.

“Setting up Cairns as a hub for Australia’s sports teams will undoubtedly help us in our economic recovery efforts.

“Cairns is one of the most beautiful places in the world to visit and is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.

“The natural beauty of our region will be on show to thousands of footy fans across the country.

“We want to ensure that as soon as these people are safe to travel, that they come to our region and spend money locally. Today’s announcement helps us to ensure Cairns remains top-of-mind for domestic tourists.”

AFL General Manager of Clubs and Broadcasting Travis Auld said it was fantastic to return football to Cairns, as well as basing two clubs in the community for a period of time.

“We are delighted to be again playing games at Cazalys and to have Fremantle and the Sydney Swans staying in Cairns which has such a passionate AFL support base,” he said.

“We are really grateful to the support of the Queensland Government for their ongoing support of AFL and their support for ensuring our season has been able to continue as well as the wonderful support of Tourism and Events Queensland and Cairns Regional Council.

“We are always excited to bring our games to the north of Queensland, and now for a period of time having teams in the community and contributing to the local economy.”

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said the hub would be provide many benefits for the region.

“To have these teams based here as part of a Queensland hub has of course immense economic benefits.

“Players and club officials will be staying at our hotels and making the use of our facilities – all of which will provide a welcome boost for businesses and also lift community spirits.

“It also gives our region increased exposure, not only reaching out to millions of viewers through television screens, but also through the first-hand experiences of these players, which I am sure they will take back home and share with family and friends and supporters back home.

“Having the calibre of these sporting teams in our region is a rare opportunity. For youngsters, this will be an inspirational chance to see some of our country’s elite sportspeople in action, and I have no doubt it will entice new fans.

“Cairns has an enduring relationship with Tourism and Events Queensland and we are absolutely thrilled to play a part in the spread of AFL teams and games across Queensland this season – especially the Tropical North.

There is no better time in the year to be in Cairns and certainly there is no better place outside a metropolitan centre to play elite football.”

Between 2011 and 2018 the Gold Coast Suns played one regular season game a year at Cazalys Stadium, facing off against the Tigers, the Bulldogs and the Kangaroos in that time.