The AFLW first-round match-up between Essendon and Hawthorn has been moved to the 53,000-capacity Marvel Stadium due to excessive demand for tickets.
In yet another outstanding indication of the rising popularity of women’s sport, the original 12,000 ticket allocation at North Port Oval for the matchup sold within 24 hours.
The fixture pits two of the newcomers for the seventh season of the AFLW against each other, with the ten-round competition now featuring 18 clubs, an increase from 14 in the previous season.
The ‘unprecedented’ demand for tickets led to the move to the far larger Docklands venue after the clubs put pressure on the league to make the switch with the ‘Move it to Marvel’ campaign.
AFL administrator Travis Auld said of the move: “Quite simply the fans of both clubs, and supporters of women's footy in general showed why we needed to move to a bigger venue by selling out the game so quickly.
"Two proud clubs, a historic occasion for them and another historic moment for the AFLW competition."
The change is a reflection of the growing appetite for the AFL Women’s competition which has seen record membership sign-ups this season, according to The Guardian.
AFL’s general manager of women’s football Nicole Livingstone was ecstatic with the move and demand for women’s footy.
She said: “We know the appetite for AFLW is huge, but the strength of sales across all nine round one matches and having an inaugural game sell out in a day is amazing.
“To see two teams – and traditionally arch rivals, no less – debut to a packed Marvel Stadium is the stuff dreams are made of.”
Further fixtures at ETU Stadium in Port Melbourne will be monitored by the league to recognise whether any additional venue changes will be needed throughout the season.
Livingstone told the AFLW website: “We're continuing to work with ETU or Port Melbourne Oval. It's a great oval and facility, obviously it has broadcast lights as well there, but we want to make sure we're doing the right thing for AFLW.
"We'll continue to talk to them about it. We do have matches scheduled there between rounds two and four, so there are more matches there. We'd like to be able to utilise North Port Oval as well, but we'll continue to monitor ticket sales.
Adding: “We want to make the most of AFLW in this timeframe and if we need to move to bigger venues, then we'll consider that. But it'll be based on ticket sales."
The game will be played on Saturday, August 27, with adult tickets on sale for $10.
Featured Image Credit: hawthornaflw/Instagram. Benjamin Crone / Alamy.
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