Is Sydney too important for a Grand Final Parade?
With so much of the Grand Final ticketing allocation going to corporate partners rather than supporters, fans need more ways to get close to their team during the build-up to the big game.
I’ve worked office jobs in both the Melbourne and Sydney, and I’ve noticed a lack of atmosphere in the Harbour City’s CBD around Grand Final time. It just feels like there’s something missing – and you only need to look at Melbourne’s AFL Grand Final Parade at lunch time on Friday to see what the missing link could be.
Sure, the idea of a parade might seem corny. Perhaps the notion of marching bands and baton twirlers don’t belong in this decade (or this hemisphere). The Grand Final Parade in Melbourne, though, draws big crowds each year, especially when two local teams take the big stage.
If you were an alien that landed on George Street in late September, you would be forgiven for not knowing that an NRL Grand Final was around the corner. There would be very little evidence at street level to say that you were in the Rugby League HQ.
Zip down to Swanston Street in Melbourne in your UFO, and it would be a completely different story. Coloured banners would proudly adorn the entrance to Flinders Street Station, street performers would toot club theme songs on their horns.
Land your UFO at just the right time in Melbourne, and you’ll encounter another foreign curiosity – the AFL Grand Final Parade.
The parade down Swanston Street regularly draws impressive crowds of over 100,000 people – just as many as you’d expect to flow through the turnstiles on Saturday for the game.
The real beauty of the parade, though, is that many people who attend would be supporters that couldn’t get their hands on tickets. They get to see the players up close and in the flesh, even though they will be watching from afar on their TV the next day.
So the question must be asked, could a Grand Final Parade work down George Street? And even if it worked logistically, would anyone even show up?
Sydney is a big, dispersed city – and so are its rugby league clubs. Perhaps the Grand Final Parade is a quaint idea for a quaint city like Melbourne; not a big global gateway like Sydney.
But just remember, while you sit in your air conditioned corporate box at ANZ Stadium on Sunday night, someone out there never even had a shot at getting tickets to the big game, and maybe never will. A Sydney Grand Final Parade could just make some kid’s day.
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