Reigning premiers Western Bulldogs will play an AFL match in Ballarat in round 22 next year.
The Courier can reveal the club has secured a Saturday afternoon timeslot on August 19 for its first-ever home game at Eureka Stadium.
It will be played against the Port Adelaide Power, starting at 1.45pm.
“This is a momentous day for not only our club, but for the region of Ballarat,” Western Bulldogs chief executive Gary Kent said.
“We have already begun forging a connection with the region through community activities over the past 18 months and today our aim of playing for premiership points in Ballarat has become official with the release of next year’s AFL fixture.
“While there are enormous opportunities and a lot of work ahead, we would not have arrived at this point without the dedication of a number of our partners, who all shared a vision that this thriving region ought to have access to AFL on their doorstep.”
Kent said the club is planning to create a festival atmosphere in Ballarat that offers a football match, but also an opportunity for it to engage with the people of the city through a number of key activities.
“We look forward to making it a success in 2017, and beyond,” he said.
The Bulldogs were the story of 2016, breaking a mammoth premiership drought with a grand final triumph over the Sydney Swans.
A fully-fledged AFL match in Ballarat has long been on the radar, with the overhaul of the playing arena at Eureka Stadium complete and the construction of a 5000-seat undercover grandstand currently underway.
It had originally been expected the Bulldogs would play two home games in Ballarat during 2017, but with works on the facility not expected to be finished until June, just one has been granted for next season.
City of Ballarat reports that all critical foundation works for the stadium are complete and installation of structural steel and precast concrete panels to both the eastern and western stands has commenced.
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