Manuka upgrades 'on track' as Raiders, Brumbies and Giants share Canberra

Sport. AFL NAB Cup match at Manuka Oval under lights between the GWS Giants and Essendon Bombers. Patrons on the field after the game. March 8th 2013 Photograph by Graham Tidy The Canberra Times.
Sport. AFL NAB Cup match at Manuka Oval under lights between the GWS Giants and Essendon Bombers. Patrons on the field after the game. March 8th 2013 Photograph by Graham Tidy The Canberra Times.

The ACT government is set to start upgrade work at Manuka Oval in the coming months, adamant the construction will not affect seating capacity for cricket or AFL next year.

The AFL has locked in its Canberra fixtures for the 2018 season, with the GWS Giants to play against the Western Bulldogs, Fremantle Dockers and Adelaide Crows at Manuka Oval.

But the government also has to juggle significant work on a media centre and amenities to meet a deadline of improvements before hosting a historic first cricket Test in the 2018-19 summer.

It's understood Manuka Oval plans are being approved by the National Capital Authority, but a long summer of cricket, including a Big Bash game on January 24, and AFL fixtures in March and August leaves a short window for the development.

An ACT government spokesperson said work is expected to start shortly but AFL capacity of close to 15,000 and 12,000 for cricket will remain in place.

"There will be minimal disruption on game days for current users of Manuka Oval, including the Giants and local football clubs," the spokesperson said.

"Much of the structure of this facility will be pre-fabricated offsite, so we anticipate minimal disruption in the local area."

The Giants will start their season in Canberra with a round-one battle against the Bulldogs on March 25.

They will play Fremantle on a Saturday afternoon in April and finish their Canberra commitments when the Crows return to the capital since 2002 on a Saturday night in August.

The Giants' fixtures put them on a collision course with cross-code rivals the Canberra Raiders, with the teams to play in the capital on the same weekends.

The Raiders will share Canberra with the Giants or the ACT Brumbies for six of their 12 home games, but only one of those schedule clashes will be on the same day.

The Raiders and Brumbies both play in Canberra on the weekends of March 17-18, April 5-7 and May 12-13.

The Green Machine and the Giants will both play in the capital on weekends of March 24-25 and August 11, as well as playing just hours apart on April 14.

The scheduling clash scenario is one Crows chief executive Andrew Fagan is familiar as the former ACT Brumbies boss prepares to return to Canberra.

"I certainly know what the middle of August feels like in Canberra," Fagan told reporters in Adelaide.

"It's been a long time [since the Crows played in Canberra], but it's one of two non-traditional venues. It will be a good trip and I'm sure the boys will look forward to it."

The Giants will also play a pre-season match against Collingwood on March 1.

Giants boss Dave Matthews said: "Last year we brought Friday night football to Canberra for the first time and in 2018 we'll have the reigning grand finalists in Adelaide play under lights on a Saturday night in front of a national audience.

"We continue to receive outstanding support from our Canberra members and fans and to open the season for the first time at [Manuka] Oval against the Western Bulldogs is a great outcome for football fans across the ACT.

"[Next year] will see us bring Adelaide and Fremantle to Canberra for the first time in 15 years which will ensure fresh and exciting match ups across the season.

"We've enjoyed sell-outs in five of our last seven games at [Manuka] Oval and having won our last six games at the venue it's clear our players love playing home games in the ACT."

CANBERRA AFL FIXTURES

Pre-season: Giants v Collingwood at Manuka Oval, 7.10pm on March 1

AFLW: Giants v Bulldogs at Manuka Oval, 7.10pm on March 10

Round one: Giants v Bulldogs at Manuka Oval, 1.10pm on March 25

Round four: Giants v Fremantle at Manuka Oval, 1.45pm on April 14

Round 21: Giants v Crows at Manuka Oval, 7.10pm on August 11

CANBERRA DOUBLE HEADER WEEKENDS

March 17: ACT Brumbies v Durban Sharks at Canberra Stadium, 7.45pm

March 18: Canberra Raiders v Newcastle Knights at Canberra Stadium, 6.30pm

March 24: Canberra Raiders v New Zealand Warriors at Canberra Stadium, 3pm

March 25: GWS Giants v Western Bulldogs at Manuka Oval, 1.10pm

April 5: Canberra Raiders v Canterbury Bulldogs at Canberra Stadium, 7.50pm

April 7: ACT Brumbies v Queensland Reds at Canberra Stadium, 7.45pm

April 14: GWS Giants v Fremantle Dockers at Manuka Oval, 1.45pm

April 14: Canberra Raiders v Parramatta Eels at Canberra Stadium, 7.30pm

May 12: ACT Brumbies v Melbourne Rebels at Canberra Stadium, 7.45pm

May 13: Canberra Raiders v Cronulla Sharks at Canberra Stadium, 4.10pm

August 11: GWS Giants v Adelaide Crows at Manuka Oval, 7.10pm

August 12: Canberra Raiders v Wests Tigers at Canberra Stadium, 2pm

Click or touch here for the Raiders full draw

Click or touch here for the Brumbies full draw

This story Manuka upgrades 'on track' as Raiders, Brumbies and Giants share Canberra first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.