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"Miracle in Shanghai": SA secures naming rights for Port's China return


South Australia has procured venue naming rights for Port Adelaide’s return foray into China next year – with Jiangwan Stadium to be rebadged as ‘Adelaide Arena’ as part of what Premier Jay Weatherill called a “powerful new push to internationalise the state’s economy”.

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The Power will once again meet Gold Coast in Shanghai next year, with the AFL today confirming they will face off in round nine of the 2018 season, ahead of a bye for both clubs.

At a joint media conference on Montefiore Hill today, the AFL’s general manager of clubs and broadcasting Travis Auld confirmed the match would take place on May 19 – a Saturday afternoon fixture to be broadcast live nationally on Fox Sports and into SA and Queensland on Channel 7.

The Weatherill Government is kicking in $350,000 to the event, which includes naming rights sponsorship for the duration of the event, with the Premier declaring the showcase a chance “to reach out to the fastest-growing economy in the world”.

“This is more than just a sporting event – it represents a very powerful way in which we can internationalise the SA economy,” he told the media.

“The AFL has had an ambition to grow this sport around the nation and the world, and Port Adelaide has been the arrowhead for its growth internationally.”

Weatherill said this year’s fixture “enjoyed one of the biggest television audiences in AFL history” – although specific viewing figures are not available.

“Next year we expect many more to be watching the game,” Weatherill said.

Weatherill, flanked by Keith Thomas, Gui Guojie and Travis Auld. Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

But he also painted the showcase as an intrinsic part of the state’s Asian strategy – which was developed in part by his former advisor Andrew Hunter, since headhunted by Port to oversee its own foray into China.

“This is part of the way in which we pursue our international relationships – it’s very much part of our sports diplomacy strategy,” Weatherill said.

“It will provide significant exposure to our state around the world, and through the eyes of the people of China… this represents a very powerful new push by SA to internationalise its economy through the medium of sport.”

Port’s Chinese sponsor Gui Guojie, founder of Shanghai Cred, said through a translator he and his company would “spare no effort to give support to this game… and bring this wonderful culture to China”.

“We’ve created a miracle that engages with both China and Australia [and] this game will definitely produce another miracle in Shanghai,” he said.

Gui invested in Port Adelaide before last year formalising Shanghai Cred’s bid to join mining magnate Gina Rinehart in a joint $365 million bid for the Kidman cattle empire.

Travis Boak is presented the Shanghai Cup after the Power thrashed Gold Coast by 72 points in this year’s fixture. Photo: Tracey Nearmy / AAP

Power CEO Keith Thomas said both Port Adelaide and Gold Coast “feel a particularly high level of responsibility” for making the AFL’s push into China succeed.

“It’s a great privilege to be able to represent our game in Shanghai… the future of the game is about growing that game in China,” he said.

“It’s not a Port Adelaide project – it’s an AFL project.”

Thomas said “contrary to popular belief, it’s not that easy to get a game up in China”.

“It takes determination and vision,” he said.

“It’s important, having established a pretty good platform in 2017, that we need to nurture it, to help it to grow… it’s our determination to do that in 2018.”

He said he wanted to “ensure that the Shanghai experience is a benchmark that other AFL clubs can look at and be inspired to follow us into China”.

Gold Coast will once again relinquish a home game for the fixture, despite receiving second billing.

The arrangement this year prompted a war of words over whether the Suns could wear their traditional ‘home’ jumper – which boasts the red and gold colours of the Chinese flag.

Gold Coast CEO Mark Evans said the club would “sit down at the end of [the match] and work out what Gold Coast’s involvement will be going forward”.

But he emphasised that “the relationship with China is important to the Gold Coast region”.

“That opportunity is to showcase all that the Gold Coast and Australia has to offer… if we can get tourists to come to Australia for whatever reason, they don’t stay in the one region, they travel around,” he said.

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