North Melbourne’s upcoming Round 14 clash with the Brisbane Lions has been moved from Marvel Stadium in Melbourne to Blundstone Arena in Hobart.
The AFL advised the club of the change on Monday “due to a combination of current border restrictions in place and the inability for members and supporters in Melbourne to attend the game in Melbourne”.
The club has again agreed to strict travel arrangements and other protocols as approved by the Tasmanian State Government. North will fly-in and fly-out for the clash on Saturday afternoon via charter plane.
There are no additional protocols in place for the Brisbane Lions as they are travelling from their base in Queensland.
North CEO, Ben Amarfio, said the club’s hands were tied and it had worked with the Tasmanian Government, Blundstone Arena and Spirit of Tasmania to stage its third game of the season in the state.
“Like last year, COVID has taken a lot of decisions out of our hands and we have no choice but to try and capitalise on this latest fixture change and ensure the impact is minimal on our club,” Amarfio said.
“We are very cognisant of the fact our Victorian-based members will miss out on seeing us play in person, and we obviously wish this wasn’t the case. Our membership services team will look at making some additional benefits available, including merchandise vouchers and additional guest passes to our remaining home games.
“We will endeavour to make sure all our members feel they are getting value out of their membership but also ask for their understanding.”
Amarfio stated North’s Tasmanian members would receive access to the Brisbane game as part of their membership at no extra cost.
“Our loyal Tasmanian members missed out on seeing us play last season, so we are delighted to be able to provide this additional game as a value-add to their existing membership,” he said.
“It’s a small gesture from us to them, given their generosity last year.
“We hope as many of our Tassie members as possible take up the offer and come and see David Noble go up against his former colleague and fellow Tasmanian in Lions’ coach, Chris Fagan, for the first time.”
Tasmania Premier, Peter Gutwein, said the state would welcome the game.
“The announcement from the AFL this evening, follows positive and constructive conversations throughout this week and across the weekend between the AFL, North Melbourne, Hawthorn and the Tasmanian Government while the COVID-19 situation in metropolitan Melbourne has been monitored,” he said.
“The AFL has now decided that Tasmania will host two matches this coming weekend due to crowd restrictions in Melbourne associated with the COVID-19 situation in that state. Moving the matches to Tasmania ensures they can be played in a COVID-safe manner, while giving Tassie footy fans and those across the country, currently not subject to travel restrictions, the opportunity to attend the matches.
North Melbourne will play Brisbane on Saturday, June 19, at Blundstone Arena at 4.35pm AEST.
“I’d like to thank the AFL and both Hawthorn and North Melbourne Football Clubs for working so closely and constructively with the Tasmanian Government and our Public Health authorities to ensure these matches can proceed in a safe way in front of what we expect to be very strong crowds in Tasmania,” Gutwein added.
“There’s so much to look forward to this week in Tassie, so get out and experience and support the world class cultural and sporting events being held right here in Tassie.”
North will play its other contracted games in Tasmania in Rounds 15 and 20, against Gold Coast and Geelong respectively.
Ticketing release information to follow once it becomes available.