AFL premiers Melbourne will return to Alice Springs next year, hosting one of three matches to be played in the Northern Territory during the 2022 season.
The Demons will take on an as-yet unnamed opponent at Traeger Park, with the league set to confirm its full fixture later this week.
It will be the first time Simon Goodwin’s side has travelled to the NT since 2020, following two years of fixture shake-ups caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
There were no AFL matches played in the NT last season.
Gold Coast will host Hawthorn at Darwin’s TIO Stadium in round 11 – the league’s annual Sir Doug Nicholls Round – and will take on another opponent at the same venue the following week.
‘After disappointingly having to postpone our matches in the Territory earlier this year, it is fantastic for the community in Darwin to be able to host two games this season, one that I know the locals will be very excited to be able to attend,’ AFL fixtures boss Travis Auld said.
Melbourne hosted one match each year in Alice Springs from 2014 to 2020.
‘The Northern Territory is an incredibly special place and we are really looking forward to getting back there to play football again in 2022,’ Demons CEO Gary Pert said.
‘Our players, coaches and staff have built a close relationship with the NT over the past decade, and continue to focus on giving back to the community and ensuring our partnership is meaningful and impactful.
‘Traeger Park has become like a second home for us, and it’s always fantastic to be able to connect with the local community and bring the AFL to their doorstep.’
Meanwhile, North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs are reportedly set to retain their Good Friday match in 2022.
It will be their third meeting in the stand-alone fixture.
The season will begin on March 16 when Melbourne and the Bulldogs do battle at the MCG in their first meeting since September’s grand final.