Ballarat is set for a cross-border tourism boost, after Port Adelaide was announced as the Western Bulldogs opponent for the inaugural AFL game at Eureka Stadium.
The move revived a twenty year-old tourism push, where Ballarat called itself “Crow-friendly” to attract Adelaide fans travelling to Melbourne.
The link to the Adelaide AFL tourism market comes after a fairy tale year for Ballarat’s AFL partner, the Bulldogs, whose swollen number of fans promise to make tickets to the August 19 event hard to get.
While Ballarat will have to be content with only a single AFL fixture next year due to the $30million stadium upgrade completion, this is expected to be at least two games in 2018
City of Ballarat Chief Executive Officer Justine Linley said Ballarat could not have asked for a better interstate opponent for next year than Port Adelaide.
“Port Adelaide has a big and long-standing regional following, so people in Mount Gambier and south-east South Australia and will be coming up through our region,” Ms Linley said.
“We've got an ability to attract and welcome and we've done that before.
“Even though we're a Bulldogs town now we'll still be welcoming for people from interstate. I think it will be a bit of a party atmosphere in Ballarat in August.”
Visit Ballarat Chief Executive Officer Noel Dempsey said the game could bring a huge windfall to the City of Ballarat.
“The match at Eureka Stadium is estimated to provide close to $1million economic impact, driven by intrastate and interstate visitation,” Mr Dempsey said.
Mr Dempsey said his organisation had pushed for a South Australian team.
“We really expect to attract a lot of people from Adelaide because Port Adelaide has some very passionate fans,” he said.
“It's the perfect opportunity to show the travellers they should be stopping off here on their way to Melbourne, but we want them to say 'stuff Melbourne, I'll be locating in Ballarat’.”
AFL Fans Association South Australian Representative Eric Weltner said that Ballarat should expect a solid Power turnout.
“We normally have a reasonable amount of people travel over and I personally do a couple of trips a year,” Mr Weltner said.
“I’ve been thinking about all those times I’ve driven through Ballarat and never stopped, so I’ve finally got a good reason to do so.”
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