The AFL is said to be mulling over a potential change from tradition for the opening of the 2024 season, with the first game, or two, of the new campaign a chance of being played in Sydney a week earlier.
Richmond and Carton have hosted the AFL's season-opening match at the MCG on the first Thursday of the fixture since 2015, barring the 2022 season when reigning grand finalists Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs played on a Wednesday night on the eve of the traditional clash.
A report from The Age has revealed the league is weighing up its options for Round 1 next year, with several initiatives to get the most out of the first round of the fixture being considered.
Among the concepts is a plan to open the 2024 season a week earlier than normal in Sydney, likely the weekend of March 8-10, given the NRL-dominated market will have an opening as the national rugby league competition plans to launch its own 2024 season abroad in Las Vegas.
The AFL would look to take advantage of the NRL's absence for that week with games to be hosted by the Swans and Giants, while the seven other matches for Round 1 would likely take place in the more traditional opening slot the week as part of a split round.
The league was criticised this year for not hosting any matches in Sydney during the NRL's Magic Round, where all eight NRL matches were held in Brisbane for the weekend. Instead, GWS and Sydney played in Canberra and Melbourne respectively that same week.
Speaking to The Age, Sydney CEO Tom Harley said the league should look at ways to get a "leg up" over its rival codes through any chance that arises.
“Gather Round is a really good example of how you can be flexible with the fixture,” Harley told the publication.
“The key part for us is that the other states get a leg up. It shouldn't come as a surprise to hear that we missed some opportunities when it came to fixturing games here this year, and we all acknowledge it was a big miss.
“Whether we bring the season forward and kick it off in Sydney or look at other blockbusters, that move should come after a really strong campaign across the Sydney market starting off at the back end of summer.”
Both the Swans and Giants have broken membership records in 2023 and both remain in the finals race with four rounds remaining in the season.