SIR Doug Nicholls Round will be launched on a Thursday night in Darwin next year, with Geelong to play a premiership game in the Northern Territory for the first time.
The AFL today announced a new agreement with the Northern Territory Government that will see three games played in the NT per season for the next three years – two by Gold Coast in Darwin and one by Melbourne in Alice Springs every year until 2026.
In 2024, the Suns will play back-to-back games at TIO Stadium in Darwin, against North Melbourne on the Saturday night of round nine (May 11) and against the Cats on Thursday, May 16 to start round 10, which is Sir Doug Nicholls Round.
The Demons will then play Fremantle at TIO Traeger Park on the Sunday afternoon of round 12 (June 2).
The news comes after the fixture for Gather Round was revealed on Sunday. The full fixture for the 2024 premiership season, including the match times for the NT games, will be announced later this week.
Melbourne has had a long relationship with the NT, having first played a game there in 2010, while the Suns first played in Darwin in 2020.
The Demons have an 8-11 record across both NT venues, while the Suns have won four of their seven games in the territory, including four from four in the past two years in Darwin.
The 2024 games will break new ground for the Cats, who have never played a game for premiership points in the NT, and the Dockers, who have never played in Alice Springs (they have a 1-3 record in Darwin).
The Kangaroos have played just once before in the NT, a 62-point loss to the Suns in Darwin in 2022.
"The NT has become our second home and we have taken pride in our ability to make Darwin a fortress where we play some of our best football," Suns CEO Mark Evans said.
Melbourne CEO Gary Pert said: "We have been visiting Alice Springs for a decade now, and as a club, have developed such a strong connection to the region. We consider Traeger Park a home away from home, and our players love nothing more than when they get the opportunity to play there."
Games in the Northern Territory, 2024
Saturday, May 11 (round nine): Gold Coast v North Melbourne, TIO Stadium Darwin
Thursday, May 16 (round 10): Gold Coast v Geelong, TIO Stadium Darwin
Sunday, June 2 (round 12): Melbourne v Fremantle, TIO Traeger Park