ESSENDON great Michael Long is urging the AFL to seriously consider the Northern Territory for one of the 'hubs' that shape as the key to breathing life into the season.
Long's comments follow AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan contacting NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner last week about the possibility of up to 10 clubs basing themselves in Darwin for approximately eight weeks.
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McLachlan's proposal was for up to 600 people, comprising players, staff and possibly even family in certain cases, who would stay in "Olympic-style villages" in and around Darwin.
The League chief is set to announce on May 11 how and when the season will resume.
Darwin's TIO Stadium would be the main playing venue in the Territory hub but it's believed Alice Springs' Traeger Park, which also hosts an AFL match each year, could be used as well.
Gardens Oval, which is located close to the Darwin CBD, would be only a training venue.
"We'd love to be part of the hub idea and we've got the lowest (coronavirus) cases anywhere in Australia," Long told AFL.com.au.
"It would be a great opportunity for us to showcase the Territory.
"We're a bit isolated from everyone else but it's a good opportunity to stimulate our economy up here, which has had its challenges even before the coronavirus.
"Don't leave us out of that discussion and debate, because this is the safest place to be … and once all the bans come off in, say, Melbourne and Sydney, then you can flow into those states."
Quarantine hubs are the hottest topic in football, with AFL general manager of clubs and broadcasting Travis Auld conceding last week it was likely the "only" way to resume games.
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AFLNT chief executive Stuart Totham put hubs on the agenda at the start of April, when he pitched Darwin as an ideal location to house up to six teams for training and playing purposes.
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There's been little public debate about the merits of an NT hub since, with seemingly every other location across Australia being championed, including Queensland firming as the frontrunner.
That's despite the Territory having comfortably the least coronavirus cases in the country with only 28 – almost a quarter of the next-lowest, the ACT – including only five active cases and no recorded community transmission.
Gunner even announced on Monday that select parks and reserves, excluding Uluru and Kakadu, would reopen under strict conditions this Friday.
Triple premiership coach Mick Malthouse is one high-profile identity advocating the Northern Territory.
Collingwood president Eddie McGuire played down the NT's hopes in early April, saying "even in Alice Springs or Darwin, we have to be very careful of our Indigenous population, particularly in the remote areas of Australia, so they may not get the spot".
However, Long, who lives in the Top End, was less concerned about that potential issue.
"Most of the remote communities are shut down," Long said.
"It would be more Darwin-based than anything, if we did have the games here.
"We'll be instructed by the government, anyway, when those bans are lifted for remote people coming into town or having access to communities."
Gold Coast and Melbourne have specific arrangements to play home games in the Northern Territory and would almost certainly be part of any Darwin hub.
The Suns, Demons, Essendon, Hawthorn, Geelong and Collingwood have Next Generation Academy zones in the NT, while St Kilda and Adelaide were scheduled to play there this year.