The AFL remains utterly hell-bent on pushing their intensely weird, very parochial, entirely ad-hoc sport on the rest of the world, and if the Greater Western Sydney Giants have any say in the matter, the next destination on the itinerary will be the good ole’ USA.
League bosses have pushed the international expansion of Australian football – a game loved almost violently by people here, but a baffling mystery to anyone who didn’t grow up with it – over the past few years, sending regular season games to both New Zealand and China in a bid to expand the game’s global footprint.
Now, however, Giants bosses are reportedly keen to take the game across the Pacific to the United States, with California being circled as the likely destination.
According to The Age, negotiations are in the “preliminary stages,” but GWS officials remain upbeat about the prospects of a game for premiership points in the United States.
The Giants have one “spare” home game at their disposal, with current contractual commitments dictating they play 7 home games at their GIANTS Stadium base at the Sydney Showgrounds and 3 in Canberra, leaving one home fixture effectively as a flexible option.
The AFL is already exploring America as an option for their absurdly expensive and utterly baffling AFLX experiment, which they persist with despite entirely middling results thus far. However GWS chief executive David Matthews remained buoyed by the prospect of an American game for points.
There’s significant enough interest from investors and supporters, locally and in the US, to explore the possibility. Our preference would be a premiership game. That said, like a lot of clubs we’re in discussions with the AFL about their aspirations for AFLX.
It certainly wouldn’t be the first time the AFL has ventured across to America; in 2006, a practice match between Melbourne and Sydney was played at a facility on-campus at UCLA.
That surface, however, has since been converted to astro turf, making it unsuitable for AFL play. Similarly, the bulk of American sports stadiums are rectangular in shape, making finding a suitable facility to play the game a significant challenge.
Still, with the amount of Australian bartenders traipsing about Los Angeles at any one time, any game played in California would have an automatic attendance of around 30,000. So they’ve got that much over the China experiment already.
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