Fremantle's breakthrough AFL season which landed them a grand final berth in 2013 will pay a further dividend in 2014 with the Dockers and traditional drawcards Collingwood to be used to launch the season in a stand-alone Friday night blockbuster at Etihad Stadium.
It will be the first time the Dockers have been chosen to open a season. It is also set to be the first time since 2004 Fremantle and Collingwood have played at Etihad instead of the MCG.
West Coast, who will open their 2014 season with a home game against the Western Bulldogs at Patersons Stadium, will also be part of a new AFL push in its 2014 fixtures - with a series of blockbuster games scheduled for Sunday nights.
It is understood West Coast's WA Day fixture will be played against North Melbourne on Sunday, June 1, instead of Monday, June 2.
The AFL wants to test bigger games in the Sunday timeslot and scheduling the following week demanded that the match be played on a Sunday rather than a Monday to avoid a five-day break.
The fixtures will be officially released tomorrow, but a significant amount is already known about round one, with Sydney expected to be drawn to play Greater Western Sydney and Geelong expected to host Adelaide under lights at Simonds Stadium.
Fremantle and Collingwood have played only three times at Etihad Stadium, with the Dockers winning two of the clashes, including the last one at the ground nine years ago in front of 34,000 fans when Paul Medhurst kicked three goals for Fremantle in a 34-point win.
The Dockers are bracing for a tougher draw after reaching the grand final.
Fremantle are also expected to be part of an Anzac Day triple header. With April 25 falling on a Friday, it is likely that Fremantle's Len Hall tribute game will be played against North Melbourne at Patersons Stadium, to go with the traditional Collingwood- Essendon clash at the MCG and St Kilda hosting a game in New Zealand again.
The fixturing of West Coast's WA Day match on a Sunday is likely to generate significant discussion, not least among WAFL clubs which strongly opposed the move this year to clash with their traditional Monday Foundation Day fixtures which had become the biggest day on the local competition's home-and-away calendar.
East Fremantle and South Fremantle shifted their traditional port derby to a Sunday to avoid clashing with the AFL game.
The Eagles rated their WA Day fixture this year, against Richmond in round 10, as a success, with 37,781 people attending.