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Saints to court the Kiwi market again: Bains

Fans attending ANZAC Day match between St Kilda and Carlton at Westpac Stadium, Wellington last year. (Photo: Justine Walker/AFL Media)
Saints fans are seen during the 2015 AFL Round 04 ANZAC Day match between the St Kilda Saints and the Carlton Blues at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand on April 25, 2015. (Photo: Justine Walker/AFL Media)
We see an opportunity to reinvigorate what we started doing in New Zealand,
Ameet Bains

A NEW deal to play up to two games in Auckland in 2018 would help net St Kilda hundreds of thousands of dollars, chief operating officer Ameet Bains says. 

The Saints will explore the option of playing across the Tasman in two years time, when they meet with Auckland officials later this month.

St Kilda played three games at Westpac Stadium in Wellington over the past three years, but see a more viable future in New Zealand’s biggest city. 

"We see an opportunity to reinvigorate what we started doing in New Zealand," Bains told SEN. 

"The contrast between Auckland and Wellington is really like Canberra and Melbourne, in many respects. One is a smaller government city and Auckland is the commercial centre of New Zealand.

"Half the population resides there as well so we think in terms of the actual market and its appetite for AFL, it's a lot better suited to footy than Wellington was."

Initially, the Saints are hoping to play one pre-season game, plus a home and away fixture in 2018, before looking at committing to two premiership matches after that.

Auckland's Western Springs Stadium, which is primarily used for rugby union, is proposed as the venue for the Saints to play at, should the proposed redevelopment go ahead.

Bains said the potential financial benefits of playing games in an overseas market were significant.

"That's something we're negotiating through with the relevant bodies from Auckland and the AFL. It can be several hundreds of thousands of dollars," Bains said.

He reassured fans that the slated games in New Zealand would not affect their membership entitlements.

"There's always a make up game for all of the teams," Bains said. 

"We're suggesting starting off slowly and seeing what's possible, but certainly the members do get that opportunity to attend an away game that they wouldn't otherwise get for free."

Meanwhile, Bains said St Kilda's plan to return its training base to Moorabbin by the end of next year was starting to ramp up.

"At the moment we're finalising the design stage and we're hopeful, in a couple of weeks, that we'll be able to submit a planning application," he said.