EVERYTHING is falling into place for the Western Bulldogs as they continue their push to really make Ballarat home, the club's football general manager Chris Maple says.
A proud Ballaratian, Maple can experience the territorial feel from both inside the club and about his home town. This is why Maple is well-placed to understand why a Bulldogs win in Ballarat on Sunday would be momentous on all fronts.
The Bulldogs and rival Adelaide are effectively playing off for the chance to make AFL finals and this has drawn a full house to Mars Stadium on Sunday. This will be the first time, in what is the Bulldogs' fifth AFL premiership season match on Mars, for a sold out crowd in Ballarat.
Ground capacity is about 16,000 people. The Bulldogs' historic first match in Ballarat attracted more than 10,000 with grandstand seats sold out but, with all general admission snatched up, this weekend has potential to mean so much more - especially with good foundations in place.
Maple said the Mars surface, like most major ovals in City of Ballarat, is magnificent. Bulldogs' skipper Easton Wood earlier this season lauded it as one of the best in the AFL.
Getting about Ballarat, where his sons play juniors, Maple said it was fantastic to find more and more youngsters wearing Western Bulldogs gear.
Even the weather forecast for Sunday (9C, likely fine by the afternoon) is an improvement on past fixtures.
But the Bulldogs need more wins on the board. They have won two (Gold Coast last season, Brisbane Lions in May) and loss twice to Port Adelaide.
Maple said the sold out status was a "good sign" as the team tried to build momentum.
"If we can have some more success, hopefully we can continue to draw big crowds in Ballarat. A strong finals series will help build support, too," Maple said.
"For the city itself, having so many Adelaide fans - and Port Adelaide the past two years - coming and visiting the town, spending money here, it's a great thing."
READ MORE:Toasting a full house in Ballarat
Maple joined the Bulldogs at the end of the 2008 season, moving on from his role as North Ballarat Rebels TAC Cup under-18 head coach and initially joining the Bulldogs in a development role.
Originally hailing from Ararat, Maple has also coached Tatyoon and Buninyong.
Maple thanked the whole region for getting behind the club, particularly in such a pivotal part of their campaign.
AT A GLANCE
Western Bulldogs v Adelaide at Mars Stadium, Sunday 1.10pm.
The match is sold out, including all general admission, and will only be broadcast on pay television.
The Bulldogs must win to play finals. A loss will make their hopes dependent on others' results.
Parking is available at neighouring Ballarat Sports and Events Centre and CE Brown Reserve. There is also limited on-street parking.
Shuttle buses will operate between Ballarat Railway Station and Mars Stadium.
A park-and-ride service will run from Doveton Street North, near Midlands Golf Club. Park by the cemetery and splash park.
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