Minister for Tourism and Major Events Louise Asher and the Minister for Sport and Recreation Hugh Delahunty today officially launched the commencement of public ticket sales for the first game of the 2012 Harvey Norman State of Origin series to be played in Melbourne next year.
"The fact that we can bring the first match, traditionally played in NSW or Queensland, to Victoria reflects the success and competitive edge Melbourne has as a major events destination," Ms Asher said.
"Victoria has long been recognised as the sporting capital of Australia and this State of Origin game will be a great addition to our world-class major events calendar."
This will be the second time game one has been played outside of Queensland or NSW. In 2009 Melbourne attracted record crowds of almost 51,000 people for a State of Origin event, yielding an economic benefit to Victoria of around $17.1 million.
"This game will attract thousands of rugby league fans from two of our key interstate markets and deliver significant economic benefits for Victoria," Ms Asher said.
Ms Asher said the Victorian Coalition Government will continue its proactive approach to major events, ensuring Melbourne retains its leadership position as the events capital delivering major economic benefits to Victoria.
"Major events contribute to the vibrancy and livability of Victoria and the Coalition Government is proud to deliver an award-winning major events calendar that offers all Australians the chance to experience the world's best in sport, culture and entertainment," Ms Asher said.
Mr Delahunty said rugby league is growing in popularity in Victoria and he expected tickets to sell quickly, with thousands of Victorians as well as the tens of thousands of New South Wales Blues and Queensland Maroons supporters living in the state.
"Some of Melbourne's own Storm players will be playing for their 'state of origin', giving locals an opportunity to participate in what is sure to be a clash of the interstate titans.
ARL Chief Executive Geoff Carr said since 2005 the partnership with the Victorian Government and the Victorian Major Events Company has brought some truly memorable Australian sporting moments to Melbourne and they have attracted sell-out crowds.
"To once again host a series opener here shows just how successful that partnership has been and once again fans from not just Victoria but across Australia will converge in Melbourne to be part of something they are really going to enjoy," Mr Carr said.
The Harvey Norman State of Origin 2012 game one will be held on 23 May at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne. Tickets will go on sale Friday 19 August at 10am.