The Gabba is set to be announced as the host venue of the 2020 AFL grand final on Wednesday as the competition’s showpiece event leaves Victoria for the first time.
With Victoria’s COVID-19 breakout forcing the state into lockdown, the AFL faced a dilemma of where to play the grand final, which would normally attract around 100,000 fans at the MCG.
The state governments of Western Australia, South Australia and New South Wales put cases forward to host it, but Queensland was always in the box seat given the assistance the state has provided to the AFL to help keep the season afloat.
It’s understood the Gabba will be the venue selected for the grand final, with a capped crowd of about 30,000 slated to attend the October 24 spectacle.
The match is also set to be played under lights – either with a twilight or night bounce down – in another move that breaks with tradition.
The time slot will avoid a clash with horse racing’s Cox Plate and will appeal to broadcasters, who expect a massive television audience in prime time.
The AFL Commission met on Tuesday to make a final decision on the grand final venue, and they are set to announce it publicly on Wednesday.
Premiership contenders West Coast (Optus Stadium) and Port Adelaide (Adelaide Oval) are expected to be allowed to host any home finals at their regular home grounds in the lead-up to the grand final.
Premiership coaches Chris Scott and Damien Hardwick are among the prominent AFL figures who believe Queensland deserved hosting rights for the grand final.
“I’m very much about the growth of the game,” Hardwick said.
“I think Team Queensland for mine. We love it up here. They’ve embraced us. We’re very fortunate to be up here playing great footy in this great state.
“They’ve certainly got my vote. And I think it’s incredible for the growth of the game.
“To sit there and look at the state and the footy frenzy we’re in at the moment, from my point of view taking Richmond out of it, I’d be more than happy for the grand final to be played here.”
Victoria holds a long-term contract to host the grand final – through the state government and MCC, operator of the MCG – and will be compensated for losing this year’s decider.
It is understood the existing contract, which runs through to 2057, will be extended by one more year.