The AFL Grand Final looks set to be played outside of Melbourne, but will Brisbane win the right to host the 2020 premiership decider at the Gabba?
While nothing has officially been confirmed yet in regards to whether or not the final could be moved from the MCG, Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has all but accepted that Melbourne’s lockdown will likely lead to the Grand Final being played elsewhere.
Perth’s Optus Stadium, the Adelaide Oval and the Gabba have hosted games throughout the rejigged footy season and are all under consideration for hosting the Grand Final. Also in the frame is ANZ Stadium in Sydney, although AFL hasn’t been played in NSW since the season restarted.
The attractive new Optus Stadium and the ever-popular Adelaide Oval rightly have strong cases behind their bids to host the Grand Final. Both have hosted teams during Western Australian and South Australian swings of the season as teams moved from state to state.
But the Gabba arguably has a stronger case, due the fact that it – along with Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast – has provided a hub for AFL teams to stay, train and play from during unprecedented times.
Without the Queensland bubble that the AFL were able to set up, the sport could have been in a lot of trouble. AFL’s money problems have been eased thanks to the ability to keep television revenue ticking over, as well as crowd receipts too.
At the Gabba, a crowd of 14,000 witnessed Brisbane Lions defeat St Kilda in Round 13. That is the limit at present due to the social distancing restrictions and crowd size limitations. But by the time the Grand Final is played, that could be up to 30,000 of the Gabba’s 42,000 capacity.
The final will be played on either October 17 or October 24, the same day that the Caulfield Cup or Cox Plate will take place in Melbourne during the Spring Carnival. The difference is that racing has been able to continue in Victoria. But with interstate travel needed for footy teams, that hasn’t been possible.
Optus Stadium has an advantage of being able to stage a daytime Grand Final in the west that will air at primetime in the east. Not to mention the possibility of a full capacity crowd at a stadium that knocks spots off the Gabba.
But a 14-day quarantine period will be needed for those travelling into Perth. With the AFL hub already present in Brisbane, that is why the Gabba has an advantage. The same applies to the Adelaide Oval too with the quarantine restrictions not applicable due to the nature of the fixture list in the latter weeks of the home and away season.
Things might just play out in the Gabba’s favour. And it would be a big advantage to the Lions too should they make it to the big dance
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