AFL Grand Final to be played in Brisbane
2 September 2020, Written by Business News Australia
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has today confirmed Queensland will be home to the Grand Final this year, with the Adelaide Oval playing understudy to Brisbane's Gabba in case any COVID-19 outbreak disrupts plans.
The match will be held outside Victoria for the first time in 123 years, and will be the played under lights at night for the first time as well in what McLachlan described as an opportunity to make it a "truly unique event".
The game will be held on 24 October although the exact time is yet to be decided.
Speaking from the AFL quarantine hub on the Gold Coast, McLachlan said the decision was by no means a "done deal" from early on, and confirmed Perth was not chosen as the back-up option due Western Australia's very strict border controls.
He said presentations from different states to host the final were "outstanding" and the decision was "extraordinarily difficult". In the end the choice was based on the following criteria:
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has welcomed the decision, claiming the state is honoured and ready.
"I want to thank the AFL, and especially the game's fans in Victoria, for trusting Queensland with their most important event," the Premier said.
"This will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so we are determined to give everyone a Grand Final they'll never forget."
More than 30,000 fans will be allowed into the stadium under COVID-safe plans that have allowed the season to progress safely this year in Queensland. However, contingency measures are in place in case there are COVID-19 outbreaks that warrant a reduction in crowd numbers.
Premier Palaszczuk said the AFL Grand Final would be an economic boost for the state and an opportunity to attract new fans.
"Rather than marking the end of a very difficult year I hope it marks the beginning of a whole new era," she said.
"Very few industries have been as hard hit by COVID-19 as our tourism and events businesses, so to be able to host the AFL Grand Final in Queensland for the first time ever is a huge confidence boost," added Tourism Minister Kate Jones.
"This is so much more than a game of footy, this is a chance to show Australia exactly what Queensland offers when it comes to being not only an events destination, but a tourist destination."
The Victorian Government also announced it had agreed to the relocation of the AFL Grand final for one year, with that year to be added to the MCG's decades-long Grand Final contract.
Victorian Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Martin Pakula said the decision to hold the event outside the state was made in the interests of Victorians and all footy fans.
"This is a one-off deal in a one-off year that means the Grand Final can be played in front of supporters, as it should be," he said.
"The pandemic is a life and death battle and we cannot risk our hard-fought gains for the sake of rushing back to crowds before it is safe.
"This agreement secures the Grand Final at the MCG until 2058 and reinforces our position at the heart of Australian football."
McLachlan thanked the Queensland Government for making the relocation possible, with plans underway to help it successfully stage the biggest event on the AFL calendar and share it with the community.
"This is a really exciting opportunity for our code to take our biggest game to new audiences across Queensland and to also provide a lasting legacy for future generations," McLachlan said.
The AFL chief also thanked Pakula and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews for working with the organisation so the Grand Final could be played in front of a crowd.
"The Victorian Government has been a long-term partner and supporter of our game and a driving force behind the growth of our game," McLachlan said.
"We know this is a tough time for all Victorians and our thoughts are with the Victorian community as we continue to deal with the impacts of this pandemic.
"We look forward to returning our Grand Final to the MCG in 2021."
Melbourne Cricket Club chief executive Stuart Fox said while there was disappointment the beloved Grand Final would not be held at the MCG, "we know this is an important decision to support the health of all Victorians and the AFL".
Updated at 1:50pm AEST on 2 September 2020.
Author: Business News Australia