Suns and Lions eyeing off Gabba double-header
A BLOCKBUSTER AFL double-header at the Gabba featuring the Lions and Suns and two big interstate clubs is in the pipeline for next season.
The NRL's Broncos and Titans' double-header at Suncorp each year in May against powerful visiting clubs Melbourne Storm and Manly is a massive money-spinner.
A similar format for the Lions and Suns is just one of the ideas being explored for Gold Coast fixtures while they are temporarily homeless at the beginning of next season.
The Suns have been told Metricon Stadium will be off-limits for about eight weeks because of the Commonwealth Games.
It is estimated to take about three weeks either side of the event to lay and then remove the athletics track.
Suns CEO Mark Evans said there had been no official pitch made to the AFL but it was likely the Suns would have to play a game at the Gabba on the same weekend as the Lions.
"It is one of the things we could consider," he said.
"It has been trialled in the pre-season, there would be issues around the gate and change rooms and the changeover of coaches' boxes, but they are not insurmountable."
The Suns also hope to take another home game to China in 2017.
Lions CEO Greg Swann said any potential double-header would have to be a Suns initiative, but his club was keen to talk about it.
"We would look at it," he said. "It could be a festival of football."
Taking a game to regional Queensland or the Northern Territory is also an option for the Suns, but there are concerns about the heat in the tropical north during the opening two months of the season.
The Lions also have concerns over holding a home game at the Gabba during the two weeks the Games are on because of public transport shortages.
AFL clubs boss Travis Auld said there were no legal restrictions against scheduling a double-header and the main issues that would have to be worked out involved ticketing and broadcast commitments.
"We have to be creative during that period, taking games to regional areas and double-headers are something we'd look at," he said.
Auld said the idea of a double header had never been seriously explored before because the AFL's preference was to have a game in south-east Queensland every week, which meant the Lions and Suns generally played at home on alternate weeks.
However, given the Suns could be away from their home ground for up to four matches and face multiple road trips, there would more than likely be occasions when both clubs had to be scheduled to play in Queensland on the same weekend.