The AFL needed to address ticket pricing, food pricing, match scheduling and other matters as a priority after crowds dropped last season - particularly in Victoria. No point having a great game if no one can afford to go to see it. Its certainly not as trivial as you paint it.
Improving the match day experience has had tangible results in Adelaide, and the Gold Coast - which incidentally is part of why Travis Auld was poached from the Gold Coast to AFL HQ.
They managed to retain 66 million from 2013 and have established reserves this year worth 2.28 million. retained suplus at present is counted at 82 million, which isnt too shabby.
Who's using the ABS figures? Im using the official RBA Calculator which puts 17 million in 2006 at under 20 million in 2012. (http://www.rba.gov.au/calculator/annualDecimal.html)
I mean you can always make up your own figures I suppose. Whatever helps you sleep.