While fans and players shift their focus to other leagues and sports with the delay of the first season of the National Gridiron League, the NGL have released the official schedule for the 2017 season.
With the previous schedule rightly criticised for not featuring teams in their home cities, a benefit of an extra 12 months to book venues means the NGL have gone some way to fix those issues.
(full schedule at the bottom of the article)
Home teams in home cities
The 2017 season opener at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium will feature all four Queensland teams this time around.
On the 7th October, the Gold Coast Kings will play the North Coast Heat while home team the Brisbane Outlaws will go against the Logan Wolverines.
Meanwhile the season openers for NSW teams will be on the 14th October at Campbelltown Stadium in Sydney with the Central Coast Cyclones playing the Wollongong Devils and the Sydney Express up against the Newcastle Miners.
Sydney Express issues addressed
Sydney Express fans, who previously had no opportunity to see their teams at home now have two games scheduled at Campbelltown Stadium, the first against the Newcastle Miners on October 14.
Chugnation can now see the Express play a total of four games in NSW. Should the team go as they hope, a playoff game day will also be played at Campbelltown Stadium on 13 January.
Same teams, same stadiums
All teams and stadiums remain the same as the original schedule with four teams in NSW and QLD. While there were plans to expand into Victoria for season 2017, it seems the delay in the competition has delayed those plans as well.
Newcastle fans have a wait ahead
Newcastle Miners fans will have to wait until late December before seeing their team play at in their home city. The Miners come up against the Brisbane Outlaws on Saturday the 23rd of December at Hunter Stadium.
A second game on the 6th of January will have the Miners playing the Gold Coast Kings at Hunter Stadium also.
The Miners do have a game against the Cyclones in the Central Coast in November however, still in the region of their fans so it is not as long a wait as it originally seems.
Double header game days remain
The NGL are sticking to the format of each game day featuring two games and entertainment. All games will again be played in double-header format, and as per the original schedule, all teams will play a total of seven regular season games.
Game day shortened
One concern from fans was the length of the day with games scheduled at 1pm and 6pm in the original schedule.
This time around the day has been shortened, with games now to be played at 12pm and 4pm, making the day an hour shorter, and the time slots a little more kid friendly withe final game wrapping up before 7pm.
Teams don’t always play every fortnight
The previous schedule had teams playing just about every fortnight. This time around, it seems to ensure teams are playing in their home stadiums as much as possible, the schedule is not quite that routine.
The Sydney Express for example will play on the 11th and 18th of November in back to back weeks, while the Logan Wolverines come up against the Cyclones and the Miners one week apart.
No more boxing day game
The previous schedule had games slated for New Years and Boxing Day, a traditionally big day in Australian sport, and an ambitious date to schedule a new league.
That has been abandoned, and instead we now see games on the 23rd of December and 30th of December which seems much more realistic.
Melbourne games aborted
The previous schedule had final round games slated for a location in Melbourne. Those plans this season have been abandoned, with all games to be played across locations in NSW and Brisbane.
The full schedule is now available here at AussieFaithful, and on the official NGL website.
Individual schedules are below: