Losing the AFL grand final is tipped to cost Victoria’s economy between $50 million and $100 million.
- The huge event moving interstate this year is another blow for Victoria’s struggling tourism and events industry
- An economist estimates Victoria’s economy will miss out on $340 million over the AFL season because of games being played interstate
- The tourism industry has urged the State Government to commit to a relief package
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan on Wednesday announced the game would be held at Brisbane’s Gabba on October 24, the first time it will be played outside Melbourne.
The massive economic blow includes the loss of local and interstate spectators, hotel and restaurant turnover, and other events such as the Brownlow, and the Grand Final Parade and breakfast.
The value to Victoria is usually particularly high when two interstate teams make the final, such as the Sydney and West Coast clash in 2006.
University of New South Wales economist Tim Harcourt estimated this season’s total loss would soar to about $340 million when considering that most games involving Victorian clubs were played interstate.
But gaining the grand final would not be as lucrative for the Queensland economy, Mr Harcourt said.
The AFL grand final is usually played before more than 100,000 fans at the MCG, while the Gabba is looking at a maximum crowd of around 30,000.
“It won’t be the same as having it in Victoria simply because the attendances aren’t as large as at the MCG,” Mr Harcourt said.
“All the economic benefits are going to be COVID-adjusted.”
It is yet another cruel hit for Victoria’s struggling tourism and events industry, which first experienced a downturn during the summer bushfires, followed by the ban on Chinese tourists.
Warnings many tourism businesses may not survive
Over the grand final long weekend last year, $13.5 million was spent on accommodation in central Melbourne, according to the Victorian Tourism Industry Council.
“This year, our hotels are sitting at between 13 and 15 per cent occupancy,” the council’s chief executive, Felicia Mariani, said.
“The average room rate is actually down by 40 per cent over the same time last year.”
She has warned that many businesses may not survive until the end of the year and is urging the State Government to commit to a $250 million relief package in its post-lockdown roadmap.
“Our industry is absolutely on its knees,” she said.
“So, we will have lost all of the growth that we would have realised over the subsequent years.”
But the majority of the focus must be on tackling the virus so that other events such as the Melbourne Cup, the Australian Open and the Grand Prix can go ahead in some form, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry has said.
“We need, as Victorians, to get the COVID crisis back under control and make sure that businesses can get back to work,” the chamber’s chief executive Paul Guerra said.
Victoria has an agreement for the grand final to be played at the MCG until 2058, although Mr Harcourt said the one-off interstate move was a good opportunity to see the benefits of holding it elsewhere.
“It’s Australian rules football, not Victorian rules football alone, so in some ways, it’s good to make it a national game,” he said.