Move it to Marvel? Coaches push to relocate R1 blockbuster

ESSENDON and Hawthorn are set to launch their AFLW programs in a head-to-head Saturday night fixture in round one, but there is a push from the clubs' head coaches to have the game moved to a bigger venue.

The game is currently slated for Port Melbourne's ETU Stadium, which recently hosted the VFLW Grand Final, but Hawthorn head coach Bec Goddard is leading the campaign to sell it out and force a move to Marvel Stadium.

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"We've got great expectations of our fans, we know that Hawthorn and Essendon traditionally hate each other with the passion of a thousand suns, and I'm so excited about the opportunity that we have to sell this game out," Goddard said.

"Huge numbers turned out yesterday and the ground was really creaking. If we sell it out, it's going to have to get moved to Marvel. I would love to see it move to Marvel and let our players in our inaugural teams and all of our fans be able to attend that game.

"I checked. There doesn't seem to be anything else on (at Marvel Stadium). So, hashtag move it to Marvel, the movement starts here."

Hawthorn's No.2 pick Jasmine Fleming with coaches Kaitlyn Ashmore and Bec Goddard during the 2022 NAB AFLW Draft at Marvel Stadium on June 29, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Essendon head coach Natalie Wood echoed the sentiment, focusing on amenities to allow families to enjoy the match.

"I think there's a tipping point where that if families can't come along to watch the game because of the size, then perhaps that's when we need to look at 'is there a venue that best allows our families to come and attend?'"

The AFL has been contacted for comment.

(L-R): Madison Prespakis, Amber Clarke and Natalie Wood at the 2022 NAB AFLW Draft on June 29, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

There is precedent for games being upgraded to larger venues in response to engagement and ticket sales. The first ever AFLW match in 2017 was originally planned to take place at Olympic Park before being upgraded to Ikon Park - which was then a lockout - and in its first season, all of Richmond's home games were moved from Punt Road Oval due to the limited capacity.

Another game set to take place at ETU Stadium is North Melbourne v Melbourne in round two, despite both sides having home grounds available throughout the season.

The packed Ikon Park stands during the first ever AFLW match in 2017. Picture: AFL Photos

Hawthorn will split its home games across Box Hill City Oval and Skybus Stadium in Frankston, while the Western Bulldogs will host home games at Ikon Park and Mars Stadium while Whitten Oval undergoes redevelopment.

Sydney is fixtured to host home games at North Sydney Oval and Henson Park, while also hosting a game at each of the SCG and Punt Road. Meanwhile, GWS will also play the bulk of its home games at Henson Park, with no games scheduled at Blacktown for its first season in AFLW history.