The stage will be set
By Kayla Voss

The AFL Grand Final Is up for grabs, with Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland eager to host. Each government has presented their argument to the AFL and argued why the biggest event on the AFL calendar should be staged in their state. A case can be made for each state, as all states have both positive and negative arguments. It is not a decision the AFL will take lightly, nor should it be. This very may well be the only opportunity for an interstate Grand Final, at least until the MCG’s contract runs out in 2057. The AFL needs to consider every state’s contribution to the 2020 season, the risks and precautions in place for COVID, and how the state will benefit and support the game. However, from a fans perspective, the atmosphere is another argument altogether. 

While the AFL is set to make a public decision soon, the final decision may be different come October. COVID is an unpredictable variable and states could be forced to pull out, or at the very least provide an unattractive pitch. If COVID cases spike, COVID restrictions are the driving factor for the AFL’s decision. However, first let’s focus on what the states can do for the game. Western Australia and South Australia produce similar pitches, while Queensland offer a different approach got hosting privileges. 

Queensland is a rugby state. For fifteen years I grew up a Brisbane Lions fan while my friends grew up as Broncos fans. The state only had the one team until 2009, and the Gold Coast Suns have not truly showed promise until this year. Not once have they made the finals, while the Lions made their first finals appearance last year after a ten year drought. Not to mention, the support base is undependable without experiencing success. Therefore, hosting the AFL Grand Final could be a step in the right direction for advertising the game. Queensland does not offer the same ‘footy-fanatic’ experience as WA, SA and Victoria, but it certainly presents the opportunity to grow the game. 

South Australia and Western Australia are states with deep-rooted football history. Hosting the Grand Final in either state would bring the game to die-hard football fans to experience the magnitude of the day. The support base for both home teams in each state guarantees numbers for the Grand Final to create an exciting atmosphere. 

Atmosphere is everything. It contributes to the feel of the day. For a player, there is nothing like hearing the roar of the crowd as you run out on the field. I imagine that feeling is only heightened running out to play for the premiership. It is an experience that every AFL player who earns the opportunity to live it deserves. Crowd capacity is another factor which will influence the AFL’s decision. Certainly, the state which is in the best position to offer more spectators will have a major edge. COVID restrictions have everything to do with this. 

While atmosphere and opportunity are strong arguments to make, the AFL will be determined to make the smartest ‘COVID safe’ decision. Which state has the best facilities to provide player and coaching staff with safe accommodation, transport and training grounds? Which state offers safe COVID practices for spectators? We can speculate and argue about where the 2020 Grand Final will be held this year. Either way the AFL will make the decision which best suits the game, players and spectators. 

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