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Metricon Stadium to host historic AFL Women’s Grand Final
This Saturday’s AFL Women’s Grand Final clash between the Brisbane Lions and Adelaide will be played at Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast - after The Gabba was ruled following extensive testing raised concerns about player safety.
The AFL confirmed the venue on Monday afternoon after hours of negotiations with the Gabba's owners, Stadiums Queensland, had failed to come to an agreement to make the Lions' regular home ground available.
The game will begin at 1pm AEST, ahead of the QClash between Gold Coast and the Brisbane Lions at 7.05pm AEST.
According to the AFL.com.au website, the Lions are unhappy that The Gabba's ground staff - mainly head curator Kevin Mitchell - re-sowed turf near the centre-wicket area following Adele concerts on 4th and 5th March.
Lions Chief Executive Greg Swann stated "maybe the person that cuts the grass wasn't too conscious of what might happen for AFL football.
"We were dumbfounded at the time that someone would re-sow a wicket that isn't needed until the middle of November (for cricket).
"Our question is why was that done, knowing there's games coming? Why that's been allowed to happen is beyond us."
When asked if he was angry at Gabba staff, Swann said "probably more at one person than anybody else, to be honest".
AFL Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan said in a statement that the League was "profoundly disappointed" the Gabba could not be used for the game.
The statement advised “the Brisbane Lions have earned the right to host the inaugural NAB AFLW Grand Final in their home state and it is extremely disappointing that the first-ever Women's Grand Final cannot be at the home of AFL football in Brisbane.”
McLachlan thanked the Gold Coast Suns for making their Metricon Stadium home available for the game and encouraged Lions fans to make the trip to the Gold Coast to continue supporting their undefeated women's team.
Speaking later on Monday at a media conference, McLachlan praised the Queensland Government for its support in offering to help the Brisbane Lions fans get to the game at Metricon, and advised that the AFL had been speaking about the Gabba as a possible venue "for weeks".
He advised “of course I'm angry. It's been three weeks. This season has been a remarkable story and journey, and Brisbane have finished on top and would like to be playing at the Gabba and it's unavailable.”
He said the AFL had looked into other options, including playing the game at Adelaide Oval, Ikon Park and the MCG. However, in consulting with the Lions, the club chose Metricon ahead of playing at the MCG on Saturday.
The AFL.com.au reported that McLachlan couldn't hide his disappointment at the run of events, reporting him as saying “these venues are billion-dollar pieces of infrastructure there to be used, and that's the incumbency on the people managing them to get them ready to play.”
Queensland Minister for Sport Mick de Brenni added “I wanted to the see the game played at The Gabba (but), unfortunately, the expert advice came in saying that the risks would be too high.
“The advice is that the Gabba outfield has come up really well but the grass in the wicket area hasn’t rooted enough to be rolled and mowed.
“That means there is an increased risk of twisting and sliding in the centre area and ultimately this is a risk to player safety.
“Extra tests were run this morning simulating player movement and the risk of injury was deemed to be high.
“The advice is that this weekend is unacceptable for safety, posing a high risk of anterior cruciate ligament injuries.
“I back the decisions taken by the AFL and Stadiums Queensland.
“To expose one of these players to a possible career ending injury would be the wrong move.
“Stadiums Queensland and the AFL turned over every stone to see the Gabba host the Grand Final.”
Images: Metricon Stadium (top), Gillon McLachlan (middle) and the Brisbane Lions (below).
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