South Australia has been confirmed as the location for the AFL’s inaugural festival of football.
Based on the NRL’s Magic Round, Adelaide will play host to all nine AFL games across four days next April.
All 18 AFL teams will play in South Australia in round five next year, with matches to be scheduled from April 13 to 16.
The festival adds an extra round of games to the season, increasing from 23 to 24, with one bye for each team.
AFL boss Gillon McLachlan said SA premier Peter Malinauskas “pestered” him to secure the “legacy” round, with the state edging out early frontrunner NSW.
Up to six games will be played at the Adelaide Oval, while suburban venues and possibly a ground in the Barossa Valley could host the remaining matches.
“We are looking forward to not only bringing nine great matches for premiership points to South Australia, but also a party-like atmosphere, filled with fan activations, family-friendly events, music, entertainment,” McLachlan said.
“Over the pandemic-challenged years, South Australia played an important role in the survival of our game, and we are so pleased to be able to bring this major football event into the state.
“School holidays are a great opportunity for families, and we will work with the SA government to ensure we will have free experiences and activations at matches and around the city.”
Malinauskas said he was “so excited” South Australia had earned hosting rights.
“I can’t wait to welcome fans from across the country who will get to witness a truly unique round of footy and also experience everything South Australia has to offer,” he said.
“And for South Australian footy fans, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience footy like never before.”
Malinauskas had a major crack at NSW and the NRL – which has staged its Magic Round at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium since 2019, although the event did not go ahead in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The objective was to get it here first, we didn’t want to be anyone’s sloppy seconds, particularly Sydney’s,” he told reporters.
“Turn on the NRL most weekends and the crowds look like an SANFL game.”
The match-ups will be confirmed later in November when the AFL releases the 2023 fixture.