Blues bracing to lose traditional season-opener

CARLTON is bracing to lose the traditional season-opener for the 2022 NAB AFLW season due to redevelopment work at Ikon Park.

A lack of broadcast-quality lights – which will be installed as part of the redevelopment – means the Blues are expecting to only play day games at home in 2022.

They believe the only way they will host the first game of round one will be if the AFL installs temporary lighting. There has been no indication yet that will be the case.

In four out of five seasons, the first game has been played between Carlton and Collingwood or Richmond at Ikon Park, but the current major redevelopment has put a spanner in the works.

The Blues and Magpies in action during round one, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

The remaining season-opener was played between Geelong and Collingwood at GMHBA Stadium, in the Cats' AFLW debut in 2019.

It's one of a number of facility and fixture quirks which have popped up in recent times ahead of the 2022 season, which is earmarked to start on January 6 or 7.

The fixture itself is set to be released between mid to late November.

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St Kilda's home base of RSEA Park at Moorabbin is also undergoing a major redevelopment, with the turf currently completely dug up and a grandstand in the process of being built.

The Saints are hoping to play the majority of their home games at the back end of the season, when the works are expected to be completed to an extent to allow matches.

Failing that, St Kilda is expecting to host teams at SkyBus Stadium (Frankston) or Trevor Barker Oval in Sandringham.

The AFLW team is currently splitting its training between Sandringham, Seaford and a grassed area adjoining RSEA Park.

St Kilda coach Nick Dal Santo looks on at training on October 14, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

As previously reported on, reigning premier Brisbane is looking to play its home games 90 minutes north of the city in Maroochydore.

There won't be any clarity on travel into and out of Western Australia until the state reaches 80 per cent double dose of COVID-19 vaccination, upon which the state government will set a date for expected 90 per cent double dose and an opening of borders.

Another fixture headache for the AFL is the crossover with the cricket season.

There are BBL games scheduled in rounds one and two of the AFLW at GMHBA Stadium (Geelong's home ground) and Giants Stadium, as well as grounds occasionally used for the competition including Marvel Stadium, the Gabba, Adelaide Oval and UTAS Stadium.

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Manuka Oval in Canberra also has a mix of cricket across January, including BBL and a test match between Australia and England's women's sides.

While the BBL action at Metricon Stadium finishes just days before the start of the AFLW season, there is an international men's T20 match between Australia and Sri Lanka scheduled for February 15.

Come round one, close neighbours Collingwood and Melbourne will be fierce rivals, but for now, they are sharing use of the Dees' training ground of Gosch's Paddock, alternating training nights while the oval at the Holden Centre is being worked on.

The Magpies play their home games at Victoria Park, meaning the current disruption will have no bearing on the fixture.