National

Outstanding playing facilities, crowds and off-field standards add up to NT based AFL games

Outstanding playing facilities, crowds and off-field standards add up to NT based AFL games

BRISBANE Lions great Darryl White says simple logic points to Darwin’s TIO Stadium and Alice Springs’ Traeger Park as the answer to the AFL’s COVID-19 hurdle

White was part of the Lions’ premiership threepeat from 2001-03 in between a 268-game playing career with the AFL’s northernmost club.

The Alice Springs born champion said the two world standard playing arenas in his hometown and Darwin and the absence of the virus right across the NT were big starting points.

“The first thing you look at is two AFL standard grounds in two different centres and only 30 cases of the virus, no deaths and all of those cases brought in to the NT,’’ he said.

“Then there is the question of no crowds and while that will probably happen in Melbourne where social distancing will mean empty stadiums, the Territory can do a lot better than that.

“I know as a player that having no crowds is terrible, they are as much a part of the game as the entertainers out on the ground.

“We haven’t had big crowds anyway and that will work in with the AFL and their strict regulations surrounding the virus and protecting people.’’

White said up to three games a week in Alice and Darwin — Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Saturday night - would amount to two thirds of a full round of matches.

“Throw in a Sunday game at those venues and you’ve got eight games covered and the one remaining game in Melbourne to complete the round,’’ he added.

“Every ‘T’ will get crossed and ‘I’ dotted by playing more games up here, the players and officials can be housed at the Mindil Beach and Lasseters Casino, everything adds up to a big handful of AFL games in the Territory.

“Setting up a hub and living and playing in one centre like the NRL are doing will be difficult, but a fly-in, fly-out roster is perfect by flying in the day before or night before.’’

White said the closed border regulations around the NT were not strictly true, with plenty of access points for those in the know.

“The clubs won’t be crossing the border in a car or bus, more like flying across them, but I wonder how many dirt tracks into the Territory our community mob know,’’ he grinned.

“But that’s a separate issue, they have no real concerns with the virus so it doesn’t bother them.

“The important thing is a flight into Darwin with a plane full of footballers will be heavily sanitised and all the relevant health checks crossed off.

“It will be the same thing with the crowds, there will be very strict safety plans already in place to cater for their health and well being.’’