It took a pandemic to win the AFL grand final in Melbourne.
The decision of the national game was supposed to take place at the MCG by 2057, but the second wave of coronavirus in Victoria made it impossible to play AFL games in the state, let alone the flagship event of the 2020 season.
Last week we found out when – October 24th – and this week we’re going to find out where everything is important.
Here’s what we know so far.
When will the AFL announce the big final host?
We do not know it.
AFL Managing Director Gillon McLachlan flies to the hub on the Queensland Gold Coast to meet with other executives.
The meeting is scheduled for today – with options on the table in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and New South Wales – so a decision shouldn’t be far away.
Who is the favorite?
The Brisbane Gabba was a front runner in hosting the grand finale thanks to the low number of cases in Queensland and an arguably more influential government that was nice to the AFL.
Late October in Brisbane would no doubt be a sweaty day for the players and a sticky spectacle for those sitting in a concrete bowl in Woolloongabba.
But Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was never shy of saying she was dying to take the game north.
“Queensland is ready, willing and able to host when it can’t be hosted in Victoria,” she said in mid-August.
“Queensland hosted most of the competition and I would think the people of Victoria would support Queensland too.”
Doesn’t Perth have a new stadium?
Yes, but there are other factors as well.
While Ms. Palaszczuk has been eager, Western Australian Prime Minister Mark McGowan has until recently ditched questions about hosting a sporting event in the face of the deadly virus.
“”[The] The reality is that we have big problems to deal with. The grand finale is not one of them, “he said when Ms. Palaszczuk made her comments.
Mr. McGowan’s single-minded focus on public health may have put bad taste in the mouth of the AFL, but it hasn’t completely ruined this state’s chances.
Last week, Mr McGowan said the AFL asked how many people would be attending the game if it were held in the west.
As WA will move to loose restrictions on the day of the grand finale, there is potential for a capacity of 60,000. If there was another delay it would still allow for a restricted half full stadium of 30,000.
In the best case scenario, Brisbane would watch a maximum of around 30,000 people – a far cry from the over 100,000 that normally occurs with an MCG decision maker.
And as the gabba ages, the Perth Stadium is a brand new facility that has won an international architecture award.
The state also has even lower coronavirus case numbers than Queensland and no community transmission – but Mr McGowan wants to keep it that way, which means teams coming to WA will likely need to be quarantined for 14 days.
Who else is in the race?
South Australia and NSW set up the league in their respective states on Thursday.
Much like Perth Stadium, Adelaide Oval has proven to be a world class venue, especially at dusk.
It created a stunning atmosphere for AFL clashes like the Adelaide-Port Adelaide showdown.
Thousands of fans now attend soccer games in New South Wales, but the AFL doesn’t love the Sydney Olympic Stadium and NSW’s case numbers are problematic.