[singlepic id=248 w=320 h=240 float=left]The Bligh Government through Queensland Events has secured an historic three year deal to play three AFL premiership matches at a redeveloped Cazalys Stadium in Cairns.

Sport Minister Phil Reeves said over the next three seasons the new-look stadium will play host each year to a Premiership match between the competition’s 17th club, the Gold Coast Suns, and the Richmond Tigers.

“The redevelopment of Cazalys Stadium provides a great opportunity for Far North Queensland, allowing AFL premiership matches to be played there for the first time,” Mr Reeves said.

“This is good news for fans, good for jobs, and great for the Cairns economy.”

The deal was struck after the Bligh Government committed $2 million towards a major upgrade bringing Cazalys Stadium up to AFL standard.

The redevelopment, over two phases, will include refurbishment within the existing grandstand and construction of a second building to improve facilities for fans, officials and broadcasters with state of the art lighting.

State Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt is happy to see the AFL take advantage of the game’s expanding participation levels in the Cairns region.

“Games like this are an enormously positive influence on the region’s talented players such as Jarrod Harbrow who are making their way in the AFL and we hope to see playing for the Suns in the annual fixture.”

State Member for Cairns Desley Boyle said the deal would be a boost for the region with 11,000 spectators expected to attend matches many of whom will be visitors to Cairns.

“These matches are another major plank in Cairns’ sports events tourism strategy,” Ms Boyle said.

“It’s predicted that by 2013 the stadium will have contributed an estimated $5.6 million into the local economy through hosting the matches.”

State Member for Cook Jason O’Brien said the AFL is doing a great job across the cape and welcomed the expansion of the game’s frontier by bringing a showpiece event to the region.

“Cairns has already proved itself as being capable of hosting big events after the Davis Cup world group qualification tie between Australia and Belgium earlier this month.”

Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism and State Member for Barron River Steve Wettenhall said the fixture will provide a unique opportunity for the people of the Tropical Far North.

“I also expect a large number of Victorians will probably follow their team north away from the cold Melbourne winter and extend their stay in Cairns.”

Mr Reeves said the Bligh Government is committed to sport in Queensland.

“We provide more funding for sport and recreation than any other state,” he said.

“And as a result of today’s announcement, could spark a new era in sports entertainment in North Queensland.”

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