TIO Stadium in Darwin

TIO Stadium in Darwin. Image: @GoldCoastSUNS/Twitter

The Gold Coast Suns, Melbourne Demons, and Hawthorn Hawks will all play in the Northern Territory during 2022, with games in Darwin and Alice Springs.

The AFL has confirmed that Home and Away matches will return to the Northern Territory with three matches scheduled for the 2022 season.

The Gold Coast Suns will play two games at TIO Stadium in Darwin with a clash against Hawthorn in Round 11 confirmed, before a Round 12 encounter against a team to be confirmed in coming days.

The Suns have made an impression in Darwin in recent years, with the Queensland side having priority access to the Top End through its academy.

L-R: Noah Anderson, Matthew Rowell, and Ben King arrive in Darwin in 2020. Image: @GoldCoastSUNS/Twitter

Gold Coast CEO Mark Evans said the club was excited to return to the Top End in 2022.

“We’re ecstatic that, as a football club, we’ll be able to get back to the Northern Territory in 2022 and play not one but two fixtures at TIO Stadium after Territorians missed out last year,” he said.

“Playing against Hawthorn as part of the Sir Doug Nicholls Round and then playing again in Round 12 the following weekend will provide a great opportunity for fans to travel to the region and experience everything Darwin has to offer.”

The Suns will remain in Darwin between the two games and hope to create a football festival feel in the Northern Territory community.

Meanwhile, the Melbourne Demons will host their “Heart of the Nation” game in Alice Springs at TIO Traeger Park.

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“The Northern Territory is an incredibly special place, and we are really looking forward to getting back there to play football again in 2022,” Melbourne CEO Gary Pert said.

“TIO Traeger Park has become like a second home for us, and it’s always fantastic to be able to connect with the local community and bring the AFL to their doorstep.”

The last time the AFL played a game in the Northern Territory was in 2020, with numerous games cancelled in 2021 due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

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