St Kilda will make history as the first AFL club to play for premiership points abroad when it hosts the Sydney Swans in Wellington on ANZAC Day next season.
In what will be the AFL's most significant move on the international frontier, the Saints will kick off the first of five matches in New Zealand over three years against the Swans and share the stage with Essendon and Collingwood on April 25.
The first clash of the initial deal between the AFL, St Kilda and Wellington City Council will be held at the 34,000-seat capacity Westpac Stadium, a decision AFL chief operating officer Gillon McLachlan described as monumental in terms of the league's overseas ambitions.
"It's a significant day in our competition, a significant day for the St Kilda Football Club and hopefully for Wellington and New Zealand," McLachlan said.
"I think it's a big step. If you think four years ago there wasn't even approval to have a team on the Gold Coast, a team in western Sydney and now to have a team in both with boards and teams and lists there and now to be playing internationally.
"It's a testament to the people in the industry to be buying into that agenda ... and pushing the envelope.
"I don't think people would have contemplated this five years ago.
McLachlan said over 18 months of planning with the St Kilda Football Club had gone into the deal and confirmed two further games each in 2014 and 2015 would be hosted by the Saints against yet-to-be specified teams.
"It'll be a five-match agreement over three years; one in year one and two in years two and three against differing teams.
"I think it's been an aspiration for many years, we've been increasing our investment in our international programs over many years.
"Ultimately we had to stop talking and play a game internationally to show how serious we (are).
"I think this will show people that these sorts of deals are possible through the vision of St Kilda and the Wellington City Council."
St Kilda President Greg Westaway said the announcement marked another significant landmark for the AFL and St Kilda, especially given the game will be played on a culturally significant day for both nations.
"This is a significant moment, not only in the history of the St Kilda Football Club but also for the AFL," Westaway said.
"St Kilda, with the strong support of the AFL, is very proud to be at the forefront of promoting and growing our sport internationally."
The match will start at 7:40PM NZT (5:40 EST) immediately after the traditional ANZAC Day blockbuster between Essendon and Collingwood.
Wellington City councillor John Morrison welcomed the move in the rugby-mad city.
"Quite clearly AFL is the biggest game in Australasia," Morrison said.
"We recognise that, we're not as familiar obviously as we are with rugby.
"It's not a matter of beating off football or rugby but a matter of opportunity and we invite that opportunity."
Saints CEO Michael Nettlefold hoped the first year of the deal would ensure St Kilda's long-term presence in the region and said the club's members would not lose a home game as part of their membership.
"We have in plan two games for 2014 and 2015 and potentially some pre-season games as well," Nettlefold said.
"It's a win-win for our members because they will get a make-up game here (Melbourne) as part of their 11-game membership and they will also get free admission to the Wellington game."
Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown welcomed the historic announcement as well.
"The AFL opportunity will encourage our nearest neighbours to deepen sporting and cultural ties, providing mutual tourism and business opportunities," she said.
"This is the result of a lot of hard work and commitment from Councillor John Morrison and staff.
"AFL is a massive part of Australian culture, a billion-dollar industry, and it's coming here. This is a great new event for the capital."
The Wellington turf has previously been graced by the AFL with pre-season matches played there in 1998, 2000 and 2001.