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NORTH Queensland could be home to a relocated AFL club by 2030.
That is the bold vision of AFL Queensland chief Michael Conlan, who claims a booming population will justify a third club in the state.
The former Fitzroy star said that club would likely be a Melbourne entity, but north Queensland had the venues and passion to make it work.
"North Queensland is a strategic focus for us, from Cairns to Townsville to Mackay and Rockhampton," Conlan said.
"Cairns is already hosting AFL games ... (while) Tony Ireland Stadium in Townsville is a very good facility but we would need to work closely with the Queensland Government to build on what is already there to bring it up to what is required for AFL games.
"Queensland's population is about 4.5 million right now but by 2030, it could be around 8.5 to 9 million so we very much want to cement our game in those areas up north."
Conlan was at Fitzroy in the 1980s when the Lions were linked with moves to Brisbane and Sydney.
The Lions eventually merged with the Brisbane Bears after the 1996 season.
He favours a relocation model ahead of a fresh start-up such as the Bears in 1987 or the Suns in 2011.
Melbourne clubs moving interstate is an emotional issue but clubs facing financial extinction may consider it.
"It would be a great opportunity for an AFL club to be positioned as the north Queensland club," Conlan said.
Cairns' Cazaly's Stadium has hosted AFL pre-season games and in the past two years has staged premiership matches between Richmond and Gold Coast.
The Tigers and Suns again play in Cairns on July 13.Under this year's format, Townsville will host a NAB Cup match between Gold Coast and North Melbourne on March 2.
The city's main cricket/Aussie rules venuue would need an upgrade to be fit for AFL football.
Gold Coast will hold their community camp in Townsville before the NAB Cup match. North Queensland also falls under the Suns' recruitment zone.
"We've been working really hard with the Suns already on how we can continue to grow the game in a very important region for our code," Conlan said.
The AFLQ is also working with the Toowoomba Regional Council to developing a venue suitable for a NAB Cup match.