Pre-season schedule released, Hawthorn make decision on future Tasmanian games
The AFL has released its official 2023 pre-season schedule.
Each team will play an official practice match, with the majority also playing an unofficial match simulation, except for the Giants and Bulldogs who have decided to play an intra-club game.
The pre-season will kick off with a match between 2022 premiers Geelong against Hawthorn on February 23, with runners-up Sydney playing Brisbane the following day. The Cats will also play Brisbane in one of the hotly anticipated games over the fortnight on March 2, the other being 2020-2021 premiers Melbourne and Richmond on March 4.
The regular season begins on March 16 with a huge game between Richmond and Collingwood.
UNOFFICIAL MATCH SIMULATIONS (all times AEDT)
Thursday 23 February
Geelong v Hawthorn, GMHBA Stadium, 4pm (4 x 20 min plus time on)
Gold Coast v Essendon, Austworld Oval (Carrara), 5pm (6 x 25 mins, no time on)
Friday 24 February
North Melbourne v Richmond, Arden St, 10am (4 x 25 mins, 2 x 20 mins, no time on)
Carlton v Collingwood, Ikon Park, 11am (4 x 25 mins, no time on)
Sydney v Brisbane, Tramway Oval (Moore Park), 12pm (4 x 25 mins, no time on)
St Kilda v Melbourne, RSEA Park, 4pm (6 x 25 mins, no time on)
Fremantle v Adelaide, Victor George Kailis Oval (Cockburn), 6.30pm (6 x 25 mins, no time on)
West Coast v Port Adelaide, Mineral Resources Park (Perth) 19:40 (4 x 28 min, 2 x 20 min, no time on)
OFFICIAL PRACTICE MATCHES (all times AEDT)
Thursday March 2
Hawthorn v Collingwood, UTAS Stadium, 5.10pm
Fremantle v Port Adelaide, Fremantle Oval, 7.10pm
Brisbane v Geelong, Brighton Homes Arena, 8.10pm
Friday March 3rd
St Kilda v Essendon, RSEA Park, 4.10pm
Sydney v Carlton, Blacktown International Sports Park, 7.10pm
West Coast v Adelaide, Mineral Resources Park (Perth) 7.40pm
Saturday March 4th
GWS Giants v Gold Coast, Blacktown International Sports Park, 12.10pm
Western Bulldogs v North Melbourne, Ikon Park, 1.10pm
Melbourne v Richmond, Casey Fields, 4.10pm
Meanwhile, Hawthorn have extended their contract to play AFL games in Tasmania as the island state’s search for its own side remains up in the air.
The club announced on Tuesday that they will play four games per season at the University of Tasmania Stadium in Launceston until the end of 2025.
The Hawks will play at the venue in rounds three, six, 10 and 22 this season – the first of those games against North Melbourne on April 1. The $13.5 million dollar deal with the Tasmanian government also includes one pre-season game a year.
“Having this commitment provides certainty for the club as the state continues … its pursuit of its own AFL team, which we have long said we support,” Hawthorn chief executive Justin Reeves said.
The Tasmanian Government has released details of the first phase of upgrades to UTAS Stadium, which include an additional 1000 seats and improved facilities for players and supporters. The $65 million improvements, which are expected to be completed in early 2025, include the renovation of home and away locker rooms and new changing benches.
The state government is chasing $65 million from the federal government towards the second phase of upgrades to the stadium.
Tasmania’s push for inclusion in the national competition appears to hinge on securing federal government funding for a new $715 million rooftop stadium at Macquarie Point in Hobart.
The Liberal state government, which has pledged $375 million to the project, is seeking $240 million from the federal Labor government.
The AFL has committed $15 million, with the remaining $85 million to be raised through loans against land sales or leases for commercial uses. Premier Anthony Albanese, who is on record as supporting the push for a Tasmanian side, previously said the project would be examined as part of the federal budget process.
“However, the Macquarie Point plan is about urban redevelopment,” he told reporters on Friday.
“It is not just about a stadium, and this is the basis of the consideration we will give. We take the spending of taxpayer funds seriously.”
The Hobart stadium proposal has proved divisive in Tasmania, with state Labor and the Greens among those opposed. AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan had no update on Tuesday, saying steps were being taken “every day” as the league considers whether to field a Tasmanian team.
“Major infrastructure projects take time. You have to prosecute them, tell the story well,” he said.
“I believe the impact of a team in Tasmania will be huge for the Tasmanian economy and will have implications for Tasmania far beyond football and sport – entertainment, construction jobs, pride.
“The federal government is now also talking about a broader project … well beyond matchday in that area.
“You have to keep iterating, continuing and I’ve done a few of these. It takes time.