Canberra could emerge as a saviour of the AFL season as league officials hunt for hub locations with a spike in coronavirus cases threatening to force clubs out of Victoria.
The Canberra Liberals have written to AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan to push the capital's case as a host city for a quarantine hub with interstate border restrictions getting tighter.
The AFL is considering shifting multiple Victorian clubs to Sydney to play matches in the coming weeks, with Queensland and South Australian governments shutting their borders to Victorian residents.
Opposition leader Alistair Coe says Canberra's proximity to Sydney makes Manuka Oval "an obvious choice" as competition bosses look to keep the 2020 season alive.
The ACT government has been in constant dialogue with the AFL and the GWS Giants, but it's unclear if the AFL has contacted officials about Canberra's potential as a hub.
AFL players and staff living in Melbourne's COVID-19 hotspots were urgently scrambling to find alternative accommodation by midnight on Wednesday or risk being kept out of NSW.
Coe's letter to McLachlan suggested Canberra could host several teams, with no evidence of coronavirus community transmission, and an existing venue and supporting infrastructure the major weapons in the ACT's arsenal.
"The challenges with quarantine with players and teams travelling to and from Melbourne and also Queensland mean it is going to become very important to have venues and host cities outside of Victoria," Coe said.
"Canberra is within close proximity to Sydney, and it is also in the eastern time zone. It would make it an obvious choice for the AFL to choose.
"There's no doubt there are Victorian clubs that are going to struggle to freely move interstate to play other teams. It would seem likely that if a hub was to be set up in Canberra, it would involve a number of Victorian teams.
"It would be very good for our economy as well, not only would we have the playing list based in Canberra for each club, but you would also have the support staff and other logistical and operational staff required to host Aussie rules games. It is potentially a real boon for the ACT economy.
"There may well be a need for additional hubs outside of Victoria. To that end, we think Canberra is very well placed to host such a hub."
The government has been in discussions with the Giants about hosting matches at Manuka Oval later this season, with match fees paid to the club set to be scaled back in line with the crowd figure allowed into the venue.
"The importance of sport and culture in difficult times shouldn't be underestimated," Coe said.
"Sport is so important in providing hope, optimism and confidence to communities. We think the ACT being rewarded for our relative success in managing COVID-19 and providing a service to the country by providing a safe city for AFL football would be a great thing for all concerned."