Melbourne will unfurl their premiership flag when they host the Western Bulldogs in the 2022 AFL season opener to kick off a March football feast in Victoria.
Fans starved of live action during COVID-19 lockdowns this year are being enticed back to venues, with all ten Victorian teams playing in Melbourne in Round 1.
The Demons-Bulldogs clash – a rematch of September’s grand final – will be played on a Wednesday night (March 16) at the MCG.
Carlton and Richmond will play their traditional Thursday night match in Round 1, followed by St Kilda hosting Collingwood on Friday night.
Geelong and Essendon will meet in their feature Country Game on Saturday and Hawthorn take on North Melbourne on Sunday.
The fixture for the remaining four games, featuring the eight non-Victorian clubs, will be confirmed in the coming days.
Victoria’s “footy festival” will also see all 14 AFLW teams play their Round 10 matches across the state, beginning on March 11 and leading into a six-team finals series the following week.
In total, there will be 12 men’s and women’s matches in Victoria across a ten-day period.
“We want to get big crowds back to the footy, the weekly ritual of being able to go to a game and the sense of community it creates,” AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said.
“Connecting families and friends is something we have missed in the state.
“We look forward to seeing fans return to our venues in huge numbers as well as to all the surrounding business and venues that rely on footy and big events being staged across the city.
“Footy can hopefully help bring the heartbeat of the city back to Melbourne and back to the state of Victoria.”
Wednesday, March 16
Melbourne v Western Bulldogs (MCG)
Thursday, March 17
Carlton v Richmond (MCG)
Friday, March 18
St Kilda v Collingwood (Marvel Stadium)
Saturday, March 19
Geelong v Essendon (MCG)
Sunday, March 20
Hawthorn v North Melbourne (MCG)
Other matches TBC
AFLW Round 11
Geelong v GWS (GMHBA Stadium)
North Melbourne v West Coast (Arden Street)
Melbourne v Carlton (Casey Fields)
Collingwood v Gold Coast (Victoria Park)
St Kilda v Adelaide (RSEA Park)
Richmond v Brisbane (Punt Road)
Western Bulldogs v Fremantle (Mars Stadium)