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 about 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.
The AFL Commission on Tuesday ratified a recommendation from AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan to play the grand final at the Gabba.
Queensland is also tipped to host the AFL’s glamorous Brownlow Medal – the league’s annual best-and-fairest awards – at the Gold Coast’s Star Casino.
In its 97-year history, the Brownlow has only ever been held outside of Melbourne once – when the NSW Government paid $200,000 for the privilege of hosting the television event in 1999. It was a move that was widely panned at the time.
McLachlan will make an official announcement at about 1.30pm on Wednesday from the AFL’s transition hub on the Gold Coast.
The Gabba will have a capped crowd, with about 30,000 fans 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.
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 deserves hosting rights for the grand final.
Brisbane captain Dayne Zorko, a Queensland product, welcomed the decision.
“When I was a kid coming up at school, I would’ve been one of maybe four that played (Australian rules) in the school and that even followed AFL,” Zorko told SEN radio.
“Now the fact that the city of Brisbane will get the grand final, it’s a real opportunity to grow the game significantly up here.
“Hopefully this is a platform for that to be achieved.”
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.
-AAPJump to next article