Stands packed for North Melbourne showdown Sat 7 July 2012 Lara Giddings Premier Download hi-res version A sell-out crowd for North Melbourne's clash with the West Coast Eagles at Blundstone Arena sends a strong message that Tasmania can support six AFL games a year. The Premier, Lara Giddings, joined the crowds descending on Bellerive for the highly-anticipated clash. "The sell-out crowd for today's match highlights the value of the newly-forged relationship with the Kangaroos," Ms Giddings said. "Our association with North Melbourne is not yet a year old but the club has been well and truly embraced by the community. "Tasmanians are passionate about their footy and this sell-out crowd shows we can sustain games at both Aurora Stadium and Blundstone Arena." "It is great to have the AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick and chief operating officer Gillon McLachlan here today to witness the enthusiasm of Tasmanian football fans first hand." Ms Giddings said top-level AFL football provides a massive boost to the tourism sector during the typically quiet winter season. "There is a buzz in the air that you can feel in cafes, in shops and simply by walking down the street. "I know of people who have flown from Western Australia for this match and have extended their stay to include the East Coast and Northern Tasmania so clearly the benefits are being spread state wide." "Once again I would like to thank the Hobart City Council, the Spirit of Tasmania and RACT for sharing the vision and making this sponsorship deal possible." Ms Giddings said North Melbourne also continued to forge strong links with the local community, with kids' football clinics being held at Neighbourhood Houses over the weekend. "A key part of this sponsorship arrangement is on fostering grass roots football and it is great to see the club engaging with junior players who may be the stars of tomorrow."