Wellington city's flag at the St Kilda club office
Representatives from Wellington City Council, St Kilda Football Club and the AFL have today signed a partnership agreement for Wellington City to be a Premier Partner of the St Kilda Saints, allowing Wellington to host 'home-away-from-home' games each season.
The first game will be played between the St Kilda Saints and the Sydney Swans at Westpac Stadium on April 25, 2013.
"The AFL opportunity will encourage our nearest neighbours to deepen sporting and cultural ties, providing mutual tourism and business opportunities," says Mayor Wade-Brown. "This is the result of a lot of hard work and commitment from Cr Morrison and staff.
"AFL is a massive part of Australian culture, a billion dollar industry, and it's coming here. This is a great new event for the Capital."
The Mayor says the match will add to the Anzac Day commemoration services to respect and remember all who have died in wars, particularly Australian and New Zealand men and women.
"The National Memorial Park, Pukeahu, in the Capital city, will become a focus for those commemorations leading up the Gallipoli centenary in 2015. This Trans-Tasman AFL deal is a brilliant opportunity to strengthen the unique mateship across the Tasman."
Council's Sports Portfolio Leader John Morrison says the match offered Wellington the chance to be at the centre of an historic occasion for the world's fourth most popular spectator sport.
"This is the first time an AFL premiership match will be played outside Australia," says Cr Morrison. "AFL matches boast an average of 34,500 fans to every game, and thousands more viewers. That figure ranks fourth behind NFL Football, the German Bundesliga and the English Premier League. It's a truly awesome chance for Wellington to promote itself.
"Wellington has hosted very popular pre-season matches before, with 9000 heading to the Basin in 1998, but this match really counts. It's up to Wellingtonians to embrace this amazing sport and show Australia that we can foot it as a sporting and party destination."
The Australian tourism market has flourished in recent years, with Positively Wellington Tourism (PWT) reporting a 17.5 percent boost in the year ended June. "Anzac Day is a special day for Australia, and with only one other AFL match being played that day we cannot underestimate the exposure Wellington will enjoy to a massive TV audience," says PWT Chair John Milford.
"The Saints will come marching in, and so will the opportunities for Wellington's economy."
Cr John Morrison travelled to Melbourne to sign the agreement on behalf of Wellington City Council. The Mayor is welcoming the St Kilda AFL to Te Papa on Friday morning, emphasising the importance of the sporting, cultural, civic and national ties between Australia and New Zealand.