PORT ADELAIDE Chief Executive Officer Keith Thomas believes Australian Rules Football is starting to resonate with Chinese people with locals to account for around half the crowd for the Power’s game against the Gold Coast in Shanghai.

The Round 9 clash is officially a sell-out with a few hundred remaining tickets being exhausted this week.

Last year’s inaugural AFL game in China attracted a sell-out crowd of 10,118 but this year extra capacity has been added so that the venue can now hold in excess of 11,000.

As well as a larger crowd, there’ll also be more locals at the Adelaide Arena at Jiangwan Stadium, with around 50 per cent of the crowd likely to be from China.

Last year that number was closer to 30 per cent.

“We were always confident that our push into China would grow year on year and this year’s crowd figure shows that already,” Mr Thomas said.

“Having established a good base in 2017, it was our key objective to improve the experience and expose more people to Australia’s most popular spectator sport.

“We had to raise the bar and that’s exactly what we are doing in 2018, based on feedback from those who attended last year.

“We look forward to welcoming local Chinese supporters and those who are travelling across to Shanghai for the match and giving them a special game-day experience.”

The AFL’s General Manager – China and India, David Stevenson said the strong interest in the game from China and Australia was very encouraging for the AFL and Port Adelaide.

“We believe AFL is the best game in the world, and a key objective of this game, and our broader efforts in China, is for the people of China to embrace it as their game as well”

“Last year’s game saw 30% of the crowd local Chinese and this year that has grown to an expected 50%, so we are thrilled that many more local Chinese fans will see their first game of AFL live.”

The stadium’s surface has been graded as AFL standard and the arena has undergone a transformation which includes custom-built change rooms behind the interchange benches.

Last year, both teams had to leave the arena and walk on the outside to access makeshift change rooms.

“Our number one priority for this year’s game was to increase the experience for our fans which will see an improved food and beverage service, easier stadium entry, broader entertainment, more events around the game all in a larger capacity,” Mr Stevenson said.

“The players will also benefit from purpose-built change rooms, improved transport and greater understanding form both clubs’ experiences last year.

“In Shanghai, nothing stands still for too long, so this year will be bigger and better than last year and we can’t wait to welcome our fans, players and both clubs to Shanghai.”

The game also has the potential to be the most watched AFL game ever with millions of Chinese to get a taste through a new television deal with three free-to-air channels in China.

The clash will be broadcast on Guangzhou TV, Shanghai TV and Shandong TV, as part of a deal which sees one game broadcast per round broadcast throughout the season, along with all of the finals.

All games, as well as a weekly highlights and preview show will be telecast in Mandarin.

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