League Test to open Melbourne stadium - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

League Test to open Melbourne stadium

By John Salvado 23/11/2009 08:13:23 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne will be the de facto base for the Australian rugby league team in 2010 with the Kangaroos to play half of their home internationals at the Victorian capital's new rectangular stadium.

The 31,500 capacity venue will be officially opened with a league double-header in early May.

The annual Anzac Test between Australia and New Zealand will kick things off on May 7, followed two days later by NRL premiers Melbourne playing their first game at their new home ground against Brisbane.

The stadium will also host the bumper Four Nations clash between Australia and England on October 31.

With the 2010 Four Nations final almost certain to be allocated to Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium, the Kangaroos' only home match in Sydney next year will be against Papua New Guinea.

Although the clash against the Kumuls shapes as the most low-key of the Kangaroos' home Tests, Australian Rugby League CEO Geoff Carr was confident there would not be too much of a backlash in the sport's traditional home.

"It's the issue around all major events these days," said Carr.

"The really good thing about Melbourne is that they've got an appetite for rugby league, they can promote their city through rugby league and they do a great job in all sports.

"We play a lot of rugby league in Sydney, and when major events come around in all sports, particularly rugby league, we're pretty popular."

The Storm had initially hoped to play their home games against Manly and the New Zealand Warriors at the new venue in rounds six and seven.

But with the stadium completion date pushed back a few weeks, the club will have to make alternative arrangements which could involve playing the matches at Etihad Stadium, their home for the last couple of years.

"We would love to have opened with them, but in the bigger scheme of things we've waited 13 years now (for a purpose-built venue), we can wait 13-and-a-half," said Storm chief executive Brian Waldron.

"It's not in any way detracting from what is going to be a sensational opening."

Waldron said once the $267.5 million rectangular stadium was open, the Storm would play all of their future home matches there, including finals.

"I don't see any need to take games away," he said.

"The ideal scenario is that you would sell it out, that's what you want.

"If we play finals, I'd be disappointed in the first year if we didn't go close to filling it."

The new stadium will be the home for the Storm, the Rebels Super 15 rugby team and Melbourne's two A-League clubs.

The ARL also announced on Monday that the opening match of the 2012 State of Origin series would be played in Melbourne, either at the MCG or Etihad Stadium.

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