THE PROSPECTS of the MCG always being available for round one of the AFL season received a boost on Saturday when the Victorian Labor Party pledged $25 million to fund a cricket and community centre at Junction Oval if it wins government on November 29.

The development of a first-class cricket venue at Junction Oval could allow the AFL to begin its season at the MCG before March 31 and also give it the potential to permanently provide two byes per season to players.

Cricket has contractual rights to the MCG each year between October 1 and March 31 in a deal that runs until 2019, and has held fast to that agreement while hoping for a suitable funding model for Junction Oval to be worked out.

Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland welcomed the ALP's announcement and said it would lead to a positive outcome for both cricket and football.

"We have always said that being able to host first-class matches at a dedicated cricket venue away from the MCG would be a win for fans of cricket and football, as it gives cricket tailored facilities and paves the way for the AFL to stage matches at the MCG earlier in March," he said.

The AFL was notified of the announcement on Saturday morning.  

"The AFL notes today's pledge by the Labor Party and, pending the election result, we look forward to further discussions around the Junction Oval project," an AFL spokesperson said.

The AFL was forced to open the season outside Victoria in 2014 and played the first game in Victoria at Etihad Stadium.

It had to delay the traditional blockbuster opener between Carlton and Richmond at the MCG until round two, which affected attendances when both clubs lost their first game.

St Kilda has been linked previously to a return to its former home ground in the heart of the suburb from which the club takes its name and was aware of Saturday's announcement.
A club spokesperson said St Kilda looked "forward to further discussions about football's presence in this heartland area for the Saints".

In August, Fairfax reported discussions had taken place between the government and other stakeholders over the Saints having a training facility in the future at Junction Oval. St Kilda has also held training sessions at the venue.  

The Saints are located at Seaford and intend to play VFL games at Moorabbin as a standalone team from 2017 onwards. Until then at least it will remain with its VFL affiliate Sandringham playing games at Trevor Barker Oval in Sandringham.