The Adelaide Oval has been awarded hosting rights to one of the matches during the 2020 edition of the State of Origin, the annual Australian rugby league series.
It will mark the first time that the best-of-three series, which is contested by the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons, has been held in South Australia.
The move continues the National Rugby League’s recent trend of staging State of Origin games outside of the host states of New South Wales and Queensland, which are both hotbeds for the sport in Australia.
The 2020 match at the Adelaide Oval will mark the third consecutive series in which a fixture has been played outside of the two states, with the Melbourne Cricket Ground and Perth’s newly-opened Optus Stadium to host a match in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
The Oval’s match is estimated to deliver A$15m (€9.6m/$11.8m) to the local economy. The announcement comes after the South Australia government provided an additional A$70m in tourism funding to market the state at home and overseas in a bid to attract major events and conferences. The deal for the State of Origin game has been signed through the state government’s major events bid fund.
NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said: “Adelaide is a new market in terms of hosting this match but we know that Origin is a popular event in the city, as it is across the country.
“That will only be enhanced when Origin is played at such a historic venue like Adelaide Oval. I’d like to thank the South Australian Government for their support of the event and I look forward to seeing Australia’s greatest sporting rivalry in Adelaide.”
The NRL’s head of football, Brian Canavan, defended the move to once again take the series to a neutral territory. “We’ve been through that before with Melbourne and that doesn’t seem to worry us,” he said, according to the Australian Associated Press news agency.
“If they (the fans) can’t get to Adelaide – we’d love them to come to Adelaide – if they’re in NSW or Queensland, they’ll be watching on TV.”
South Australia’s Tourism Minister Leon Bignell said in a statement: “There is no doubt Adelaide Oval has been a game-changer, not only for Australian sport, but for South Australia’s global reputation.
“More and more big name sporting events and entertainment acts are coming to South Australia because of Adelaide Oval, making an important contribution to the State’s growing A$6.3bn visitor economy.
“This is yet another example of the State Labor Government standing up for South Australians and delivering a dynamic and profitable sporting and entertainment facility which is the envy of the world.”
Queensland has won 11 of the last 12 editions of the State of Origin.