The AFL’s decision has been confirmed and the grand final is heading to Brisbane, but there is a bit to work through before the big day.
While the date and destination may be locked in, how the grand final and all its surrounding pageantry will look is still up in the air, as is the make-up of the finals in the lead-up.
Here are some of the more interesting points to come out of the big announcement that the Gabba will be hosting the AFL grand final on October 24.
Will this be the first-ever night grand final?
It sure will.
Exactly what time the game will start is yet to be determined, with a few factors — like the running of the Cox Plate and the fact Queensland does not have daylight savings while the rest of the east coast does — still to be worked through.
Chief executive Gillon McLachlan said on Wednesday the game would not start any earlier than 5:30pm in Brisbane — that’s 6:30pm in Melbourne — but would more likely be later.
Making a move to a night grand final has been a hot topic in AFL circles for years, but it has taken such unprecedented circumstances for the switch to finally be made.
McLachlan also called the switch to a night grand final a “historic first”, one which gives the league “an opportunity to make it a truly unique event”.
What sort of crowd will be allowed in?
McLachlan said the grand final will be played before a crowd of at least 30,000 people.
AFL fixtures boss Travis Auld echoed that later in the day, saying the AFL was “extremely confident we’ll get that 30,000 on October 24”.
So far this season, the Gabba has not been able to get close to that mark, with crowds capped at less than 15,000. The AFL says it has the ability to reduce crowd numbers should the COVID-19 situation make 30,000 unreachable.
What if Queensland is no longer a suitable option?
Should there be a significant coronavirus outbreak or some other reason that prevents the Gabba from playing host, Adelaide Oval is lined up as the AFL’s backup plan.
McLachlan, though, was eager to stress that a move to Adelaide would only be as a last resort.
“It is not something we are contemplating, but I think it is prudent of us to have, incumbent upon us to have that backup plan,” he said.
How will finals work?
The AFL is still working through this too, but we know a few things for sure — one of which being that Western Australia will not be able to host a preliminary final, should the Eagles earn a home one.
McLachlan said the requirement for teams to spend seven days in quarantine upon arrival means only the first week of finals — which will come after a bye week — is a viable option. That same quarantine requirement is also what quashed WA’s grand final bid, he said.
Port Adelaide, on the other hand, will not face the same impediment, with McLachlan confirming South Australia will be able to host a potential preliminary final.
There is the possibility that teams who have earned a home final but can not play it in their home state may be able to take it to its choice of ground — say, should West Coast want to play a ‘home” prelim at Adelaide Oval rather than in Queensland — but that is yet to be confirmed.
The league says it will sort out details about finals in the coming days.
Will there be a Brownlow Medal ceremony?
That’s another one that’s on the AFL’s list to sort out soon, but Auld suggested it was a possibility to go ahead in some form.
“We’ve talked about the Brownlow, we just need to think about how we do that,” he said.
“Like everything else this year, we have to think about things differently, we have to work out whether we run it as an event.”
What about a grand final parade, or something like that?
According to McLachlan, Queensland can brace for a “festival of football” that will extend beyond Brisbane “from Far North Queensland to the Gold Coast”.
“Part of that festival will see the premiership cup come to regional Queensland centres and a series of activities for kids and fans of the football season, so across Queensland, as many as possible in the state can enjoy the game,” he said.
Again, the finer details remain to be determined but it seems like Queenslanders can expect some sort of grand final fun come late October.