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Hawks plan to call MCG home for years to come

2013 fixture: Hawthorn The Hawks' 2013 home-and-away fixture explained
HAWTHORN will seek to affirm its status as a major tenant of the MCG as part of its new business plan, which was released on Thursday.

Among the goals of the ambitious all for one plan is five years of top four finishes and a push towards 80,000 members.

But underpinning the latter goal is a requirement that the Hawks continue to play seven home games a year at the MCG.  

Hawthorn will only play six MCG home games in 2013 and with Carlton announcing its goal to play up to eight games there in the near future, plus Collingwood, Richmond and Melbourne also committed to the vast majority of their home games there, fears are growing of a squeeze for spots at the MCG.

"I don't think we will ever leave the MCG because of the size our supporter base," Hawthorn president Andrew Newbold told AFL.com.au.

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Hawthorn had 65,000 members in 2012 and has already passed 50,000 members for this season more than a week before its first game of the season.

"We're very happy there and our members and supporters rightfully expect that we will continue to play there.

"I think we're too big for Etihad," he said.

Hawthorn will play West Coast in a blockbuster Friday night clash at Etihad Stadium in round 13, the first home game for the Hawks at the Docklands since 2006. The AFL was forced to schedule the game there so that it could fulfill its contractual requirement for the number of games there for the year.

Hawk fans reacted with dismay when the draw was released. Those with long memories still blame the closure of their beloved Waverley Park as Hawthorn's home ground on the opening of the new stadium on the western fringe of the Melbourne CBD and their feelings were only sated once it was confirmed the club would move to the MCG.

A look at Hawthorn's 2013 fixture

Newbold added that the club was committed in the business plan to another deal with Tasmania when the present arrangement expires at the end of 2016.

"We'll fight pretty hard to keep that arrangement, but we're mindful that the Tasmanian government needs to agree to it and there is always the possibility that the AFL might have plans of its own when it comes to football in Tassie," he said.

The plan also calls for the growth of further non-football revenue streams, however Newbold ruled out adding more gaming venues.

Hawthorn has long operated the successful Waverley Gardens facility and in 2011 opened a new venue at Caroline Springs, West Waters, which lost money in its first 12 months of operation.

Newbold said many of the early operating difficulties at West Waters had been eliminated and that it would soon return a profit to the club.

Ashley Browne is an AFL Media senior writer. @afl_hashbrowne
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs