A new venue, a new host city and a Friday night match are the highlights of the 2015 ANZ Championship draw, released today.
Blenheim, in the South Island of New Zealand, comes on board as the 21st city to host an ANZ Championship match since the competition began in 2008.
Margaret Court Arena will host three of the Melbourne Vixens home matches next season – including the reigning premier’s season opening match against the Haier Pulse on Sunday 1 March.
The 7500-seat venue in the heart of Melbourne’s sporting precinct will also host games against West Coast Fever (Sunday 17 May) and the NSW Swifts (Sunday 24 May).
The Vixens will also play four home games at the adjacent Hisense Arena.
The 2015 season will begin on Saturday 28 February and remains a traditional 14-week fixture.
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The eighth season of the ANZ Championship has been brought forward to ensure the regular season can be completed before the 2015 Netball World Cup in Sydney.
ANZ Championship General Manager Andy Crook is excited to see the Fever hosting the Mission Queensland Firebirds at Perth Arena in Round 10 on Friday 1 May.
Crook hopes the clash, along with the match scheduled on the Sunday of that weekend at Sydney’s Allphones Arena between the Swifts and Vixens and games in Auckland and Dunedin, will break the league’s all-time attendance record for a single round.
That was set in Round 12, 2014 when 23,699 fans attended the four ANZ Championship matches. That figure included 10,118 at Allphones Arena – a new regular season crowd record – to watch the Swifts take on the Adelaide Thunderbirds.
“The ANZ Championship continues to break new ground as the competition goes from strength to strength and it’s fantastic that the Fever and Firebirds will play in such a prime-time fixture next year,” Crook said.
“The ANZ Championship enjoys tremendous support from our loyal and passionate fans and members on either side of the Tasman and we look forward to our numbers growing next year.”
In other features of next year’s draw, the Pulse will host the Swifts at Wellington’s TSB Bank Arena on ANZAC Day, 25 April.
Fans will have to wait until Round 7 to watch the Grand Final rematch between the Vixens and Firebirds on Sunday 12 April at Hisense Arena – the venue where the two teams met in the 2014 season decider.
Blenheim will host two of the Tactix home games, against the Fever on 12 April and the Firebirds on Sunday 25 May.
Crook said the TTNL will be making a decision by the end of the month on the introduction of a proposed new Conference Finals Series model for 2015.