The Western Bulldogs have announced they will return to Mars Stadium in 2019 – not once, but three times.
They will return to Ballarat for the JLT Community Series in March, and two AFL matches against new teams during the premiership season.
The Bulldogs will take on the Brisbane Lions in Round 8 on Saturday 11 May at 1.45pm and the Adelaide Crows in Round 23 with the date and time to be confirmed.
The club will also play a JLT Community Series match against St Kilda on Sunday 10 March.
Ballarat Deputy Mayor Jim Rinaldi said the announcement that three new sides will play in Ballarat next year was great news for locals.
“All three clubs have strong followings, with both the Crows and Lions also having significant Victorian fan bases,” he said.
“What’s even more exciting for locals is the fact the Crows and Lions have strong local connections with former Ballarat footballers now playing in their sides, and Ballarat was also once a St Kilda zone with many local footballers coming through the ranks during this time.”
Cr Rinaldi said the City of Ballarat was looking forward to working with the clubs and local community to build excitement ahead of the 2019 matches.
“It’s brilliant to see we will next year avoid playing in the depths of Winter with the AFL scheduling the May match early in the day and the second match has been locked in to the last round of the home-and-away season.
“AFL being played in Ballarat is a huge economic driver for our region with statistics showing us football fans spend $360,000 more than a typical Winter weekend in our city. We are hopeful this scheduling will help us draw in larger crowds next year.”
Almost 7000 people watched the Bulldogs take on the Gold Coast Suns in May of last year, and 6,450 people braved the chilly weather to see the Bulldogs and Port Adelaide game in July.