TWO former Geelong players living in the south-west have backed a move to play night games at Kardinia Park from next season.
North Warrnambool Eagles coach David Haynes and former Hawkesdale-Macarthur leader Brad Sholl said night matches at the newly redeveloped stadium was a positive for the Western District’s huge Cats’ supporter base.
The stadium’s capacity will swell to 33,500 — an increase of about 7000.
Geelong will be forced to wait until round 10 to play at home, with a showdown against former favourite son Gary Ablett’s young Gold Coast side the first night match at the ground.
The Cats will also play Fremantle (round 14) and St Kilda (round 18) under lights.
A time and date for their round 23 floating fixture against Brisbane Lions is yet to be determined.
Haynes, who played 19 games for the Cats in 2004 and 2005, said Kardinia Park night games would afford more Western District supporters the chance to watch AFL games live. “It’s better for the supporters,” he said.
“It’s a short way to Geelong.
“A lot of supporters go to Melbourne night games and that is an extra hour.
“I think it will definitely be beneficial for the guys down here and young families.
“It’s good for people who play local footy,” he said. “They can go down and watch and supporters of clubs can watch their local club and head down.”
Sholl, a 169-gamer at Geelong, echoed Haynes’ thoughts.
“It’s great for Geelong. As a Geelong person and someone from the Western District, it’s not that far to head home at night,” he said.
“I think it’s a great thing for Western District people. It’s better than Sundays.”
Geelong plays six of its final 10 home-and-away games at Kardinia Park.
It has two Saturday afternoon matches against Melbourne in round 16 and Port Adelaide in round 20 and a twilight fixture against reigning premier Sydney Swans in round 22.
Sholl, who is based in Port Fairy, said the Cats had a strong supporter base and the capacity increase was warranted.
“I went to Geelong a couple of times this year and it’s harder and harder to get a seat,” he said.
“They couldn’t do anything until the stadium was finished, hence why there are six of the last 10 games at Simonds Stadium.
“It’s a good thing —look out anyone who plays them after round 10.”
Haynes said Geelong’s run home was a positive.
“Etihad is a neutral ground but it’s always hard for teams to win at Geelong.”