Call for AFL to rotate Dreamtime fixture

·2-min read

Richmond senior club adviser Neil Balme has called on the AFL to rotate the annual Dreamtime feature match around the country.

The suggestion comes with a capacity crowd of up to 60,000 set to be on hand at Perth's Optus Stadium when the Tigers and Essendon lock horns on Saturday night.

Tickets sold out on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after they went on sale.

The Dreamtime fixture is an annual celebration of Indigenous culture and sits as the showpiece event in the AFL's Sir Doug Nicholls Round.

Traditionally played at the MCG, it was held in Darwin last year and has been relocated again because of Melbourne's latest COVID-19 outbreak.

Balme said it would make sense to rotate the marquee fixture in future seasons.

"I think the AFL nature of footy now, rather than the VFL, means we can do that and we probably should do that now," Balme told TAB Radio on Wednesday.

"It does make sense to play something like this on the MCG when you can actually sell 100,000 tickets - it's the biggest ground.

"But to take the event other places does make a lot of sense as well, particularly with the commitment to the Indigenous or Aboriginal part of it.

"It's not just in Melbourne, it's all around the world really, but certainly all around Australia. It's almost endless, the possibilities."

Excitement around the 2021 Dreamtime fixture has built in recent weeks, with Essendon winning their last three matches to ignite a serious finals push.

The Bombers have traditionally boasted a strong supporter base in Western Australia and whipped those fans into a frenzy with last week's upset win over West Coast at Optus Stadium.

Richmond, meanwhile, have regained several premiership stars from injury in their bid to claim a hat-trick of flags.

"The Aboriginal and Indigenous (celebration) part of it is something we all find a little bit special," Balme said.

"I think we're getting a lot closer to that reconciliation stuff and hopefully that's what people will enjoy and love about it.

"Then all of a sudden after that there's the game, and this game has all of a sudden become much bigger than we thought it would be a few weeks ago.

"Essendon played some wonderful footy last week and we're starting to play a bit better, so it will be a great experience for everyone."

The AFL said further Dreamtime tickets may become available as a result of unused allocations.

If so, a second release of tickets will occur on Friday.

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