Manuka Oval. Photo: Graham TidySydney are considering playing premiership games in Canberra from 2017 as part of a move to increase the club’s flexibility with scheduling.
The Swans say they will continue to play the bulk of their home games at the SCG, but Canberra and Spotless Stadium are emerging as contenders to play host for an “occasional game”, along with ANZ Stadium.
Sydney have not played a premiership match in the nation’s capital since 2011 but did play regular games there from 2003 against North Melbourne, Western Bulldogs and Melbourne – all smaller Melbourne-based clubs keen to sell home games outside of Victoria.
Swans chairman Andrew Pridham said the Canberra idea was only “exploratory” but said the ACT government was interested.
“Playing an occasional game in Canberra is an option we would look at,” Pridham said.
“It could be none, it could be one a year, one every two years, it could be a Melbourne team buys a regular slot in Canberra playing us.
“There’s all sorts of options we would look at. We have a lot of support and members in Canberra, so it’s something we’d think about, but we’re not about to play a whole heap of games there.”
The move would help safeguard the club from situations like this year when they were not able to get onto the SCG until round four due to the ground hosting Major League Baseball matches, or occasions when the season starts earlier and clashes with cricket.
The Swans are about to enter negotiations with the SCG Trust and ANZ Stadium for a new tenancy agreement after their deal expires at the end of the 2016 season. The current deal stipulates the Swans play three home and away games, plus home finals, at the Sydney Olympic Park venue.
Pridham said he was aware there were plenty of Swans members who preferred to watch games at the SCG but said the club also had members in the Hills District who preferred ANZ Stadium.
“The big thing is we need some flexibility because we need to be able to schedule games for clashes with other sports,” Pridham said.
“Part of that flexibility is we will look at the three major stadiums in Sydney and Canberra, where we have played in the past and have support and members.
“That’s something the ACT government has mentioned they would like – the occasional game.”
The Canberra revelation follows comments Swans chief Andrew Ireland made on Melbourne radio, on Tuesday night, that the club would like to return finals to the SCG.
Sydney have not played a final at the venue since 2005, when Nick Davis kicked four goals to sink Geelong in a semi-final en route to the Swans’ drought-breaking flag.
Swans forward Sam Reid was non-committal on whether he preferred to play a final at the SCG or ANZ Stadium but said the 41,317 fans who watched the club beat Port Adelaide on Saturday had created an “electric” atmosphere at the SCG.
“It’s the first I’ve played in front of so many at the SCG,” Reid said.
“It was a good experience for me. A high percentage of fans were Sydney supporters. It was one of the louder crowds I’ve played in front of and it’s really exciting.”
The Swans will travel to Melbourne on Thursday. They take on Richmond at the MCG on Friday night.