LA Next Stop for Game

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A MATCH scheduled to be played in Los Angeles early next year may become the second international game of the official 2006 pre-season competition.

The Kangaroos are pushing to play the match, tentatively booked for January 22, against the Sydney Swans at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

LA-based businessman Alan Johnson, a former North Melbourne director, will underwrite part of the venture and will meet with Roos and AFL officials during the next week.

Johnson, who runs the Ramada Plaza Hotel in West Hollywood, wants the game to be a feature of next year's Australia Week festivities in Los Angeles.

It is understood Qantas is considering official involvement in the AFL match, with other private enterprises expected to cover most of the competing clubs' costs.

Essendon coach Kevin Sheedy was impressed with the UCLA facilities when he inspected them last year. The Swans would prefer to play Essendon in the match, but Johnson says a Kangaroos-Sydney Swans match is the best-fit for the LA market.

The Kangaroos will ask the AFL to give the game official pre-season competition status.

The AFL has already provisionally scheduled an official 2006 pre-season match in Dubai, between Collingwood and Adelaide.

It will not decide whether to raise the status of the Los Angeles game from exhibition to official until next month.

Some of the project's logistics, including costs associated with broadcasting it back to Australia and the January 22 scheduling, may prove difficult to overcome.

Next year's official pre-season competition will begin in late February.

AFL football projects officer Dean Moore inspected the UCLA facilities this year.

An exhibition AFL match will be played between West Coast and Fremantle at The Oval in London in October.

- Damian Barrett, Herald Sun

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