With Victoria in lockdown and it appearing likely that the MCG will not stage the AFL Grand Final for the first time in its history, NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia are each looking to host what is generally considered the largest event in Australian sport.
With the AFL expected to announce next week how and where its showcase Grand Final and finals series will be staged, the Governments of each of the four states are each looking to stage the event.
With the majority of the AFL’s post lockdown games having been held in Queensland, the state’s success in handling the Coronavirus appears likely to favour the Grand Final being held at Brisbane’s Gabba.
With venues in Queensland having been central to the season’s resumption - adapting its restrictions to allow teams to travel in and out with regularity, accommodating teams in resort hubs and providing a unique level of flexibility – the state has done more than any other to ensure the AFL season's safe completion.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has also expressed her desire for Brisbane to host the Grand Final, emphasising Queensland is "ready, willing and able" to host the game.
However, by late October Brisbane will be hot and humid while a socially distanced crowd would see the game go ahead in front of a likely maximum of 20,000 fans.
By contrast, with Perth’s Optus Stadium now acknowledged as the best place in the country to watch AFL, the Western Australian Government is keen to attract the games.
While Optus Stadium is currently capped at 50% of its 60,000 capacity, Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan has suggested that crowd restrictions could be eased as of 24th October - the likely date for the Grand Final.
It has also been reported that Premier McGowan has offered as much as $35 million for hosting rights, or $50 million for the entire finals series.
In an additional drawcard for the league, staging an afternoon decider in Perth would still allow the game to be broadcast during prime time for East Coast audiences given the time difference.
Like Western Australia, South Australia has the Coronavirus situation and Premier Stephen Marshall has offered the Adelaide Oval - able to offer the largest attendance in the country - for the match.
By October the Adelaide Oval’s hew 138-room hotel is set to be operational. Integrated into the eastern facade of the stadium, which would offer players and staff unprecedented ease of access to the venue.
NSW’s credentials of host the Grand Final rest on the capacity of Sydney’s ANZ Stadium, which can hold 83,500 fans if allowed by the NSW Government.
However, despite NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro’s statement to the Sydney Morning Herald that AFL’s “safest bet” would be to hold the game in Sydney, the re-emergence of COVID-19 cases in many parts of Sydney make it an unlikely choice.
Images: The Gabba (top) and Optus Stadium (below) hosting AFL.
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