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AFL in the USA: Giants season opener could be played in America

  • Wednesday, July 10 2019 @ 10:48 am ACST
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The following story from Rob Forsaith at AAP appeared on the www.7news.com.au website this week looking at the very real prospects of an AFL match being held in the USA for premiership points – most likely in California. Should this match occur in coming seasons, it would be a massive boost to the game in the States and a huge promotional opportunity for all USAFL clubs. 

The United States might host a star-studded, stand-alone start to the AFL season if GWS's bid to play a game for premiership points in America gets off the ground. 

The Giants and the AFL are in the early stages of discussions on the prospect of taking a regular-season match to the US. 

Finding a suitable ground in a country full of rectangular stadiums is among the most challenging of several hurdles.

Officials are following with interest Philadelphia-based businessman Jignesh Pandya's $2.4-billion vision to spread cricket across his homeland, by constructing new oval stadiums in eight cities.

 Another tricky part of the puzzle will be fitting the venture into the fixture in a manner that satisfies all 18 clubs. 

AAP understands one scenario being looked at is for the US contest to double as a stand-alone season opener, with the rest of round one to be staged the following weekend. 

The AFL opted for a stand-alone start in 2012 to maximise interest in the inaugural Sydney derby between the Giants and Sydney, ensuring it had the full attention of fans around Australia. 

Major League Baseball did something similar in 2014, starting their season with sold-out SCG crowds watching a series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers. 

The stand-alone start would ensure both teams travelling to the US were given a sufficient break while not disrupting the rest of round one. 

St Kilda's short-lived New Zealand experiment was held in rounds five (2013), six (2014) and four (2015) before being scuppered. 

The sides involved in Port Adelaide's Shanghai match, first played in 2017, have enjoyed their mid-season byes after the trip to China. 

Jeremy Cameron, a foundation Giant and this season's Coleman medal leader, is excited about the prospect of playing a home game in the US. 

"It'd be unreal," Cameron told AAP.

"I'd be in support - absolutely. It'd be awesome to get overseas and play some footy, showcase our game over there. 

"If it happens, hopefully I'm at full-forward." 

California looms as the most likely US state to host the game because of its relative proximity. 

The AFL staged a 2006 Los Angeles exhibition match but the oval used for that game had changed to synthetic turf, meaning it could no longer be considered. 

GWS coach Leon Cameron, who featured in London exhibition games during his playing career, also threw his support behind the project. 

"The thing I like about our club is that we're bold and we want to be aggressive in terms of promoting the game and our footy club," Cameron said last week.

The original story can be viewed at: https://7news.com.au/sphttps://7news.com.au/sport/afl/us-could-host-giant-start-to-afl-season-c-201004