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Ballarat firms as AFL venue

24/11/2010 04:23:48 PM Comments (0)

North Melbourne could be hosting AFL matches in Ballarat as early as 2012 after the Victorian government announced plans for a $30 million stadium redevelopment in the regional city.

The proposal would see the Kangaroos - who have an official affiliation with VFL powerhouse North Ballarat - playing up to four games per year at a revamped 15,000-capacity Eureka Stadium.

The state Labor government, which is favoured to win Saturday's election, has pledged $30 million to be spent on the stadium and its surrounds to bring it up to AFL standard.

The funding offer has been welcomed by the AFL.

"North Melbourne has a strong relationship with the Ballarat region that has grown significantly in recent years and this would be a great opportunity to play games in one of Australia's fastest growing regions," league chief executive Andrew Demetriou told the AFL website on Wednesday.

"As well as a facility for AFL games it also provides a quality ground for local community football.

"... The Ballarat and surrounding region is 400,000 people strong and growing - that's almost the size of Tasmania itself.

"I have no doubt Ballarat can be home to AFL home and away games in the next two years."

North Melbourne currently play their home games at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne.

A recent proposal to host seven games per year in Tasmania was quashed when the state government chose to extend its decade-long deal with Hawthorn.

North Melbourne chairman James Brayshaw said the club would welcome the opportunity to play matches in Ballarat, which is located 110km west of Melbourne.

"In 10 or 15 years' time everyone, not only in the AFL community but across the board will look back and go 'what a masterstroke that was' to get footy out of the big stadiums and bring it to the people that love it in regional Victoria," he said.

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