AFL CHIEF executive Gillon McLachlan has raised the possibility of breaking the record for the largest home-and-away crowd ever when Melbourne unfurls its premiership flag.

The Demons will open the 2022 Toyota AFL Premiership Season with a blockbuster clash with the Western Bulldogs 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 10 Victorian teams playing in Melbourne in round one.

It is the first time since round 20, 2016, that all 10 have played in the state during the same round.

There's a chance I think we have the biggest home-and-away crowd we've ever had in Melbourne

- AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan

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 one, 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.

North Melbourne supporters are seen in the crowd during round four, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

"I know there's a bit of pain for people, a bit of a loss, particularly for the Melbourne supporters, but also for the Bulldogs supporters, who didn't get to see the Grand Final (at the MCG)," McLachlan told reporters on Saturday.

"The more we talked about it, starting with the Grand Final rematch made sense.

"We like the Carlton-Richmond slot on Thursday night, that's got its own tradition and momentum now after about 15 years.

"The feedback from Melbourne supporters is really strong and I reckon we're going to have huge games right the way through and we'll go close to selling out that Wednesday night.

"There's a chance I think we have the biggest home-and-away crowd we've ever had in Melbourne, I really feel that's a strong possibility."

The best home-and-away crowd was way back in 1958 when 99,256 fans turned out to see Melbourne play Collingwood at the MCG.