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Why the grand final must always be held at the MCG

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Roar Guru
1st July, 2019
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On Monday night, Chris Scott labelled the AFL’s decision to rule the MCG as the grand final host for the next 40 years as a “travesty”.

From this, many comments on social media called for the competition’s biggest game to be shared around the major cities and their premier stadiums. Now that Adelaide and Perth both have new renovated arenas, the debate will intensify over the AFL’s long term decision.

Despite these calls for the AFL to change their decision and give the other states a chance, I don’t think it should happen.

The primary reason may be the most heavily disputed one. That is, that the MCG is the spiritual home of AFL football and no other stadium or place could create the atmosphere and event that the grand old ‘G does.

The attendance is a big part of it. Sure, Adelaide Oval and Optus Stadium can both produce a fair bit of noise, but a packed MCG feels like it’s shaking when a roar emits.

Working at the MCG for the past four years, decibel measurements of the crowd noise when the national anthem concludes before the grand final doesn’t do it justice.

It’s pure hair standing up on the back of your neck, a noise so loud yet so full of passion. You could be walking around the ground without a clue what sport was being played and hear that roar to instantly realise it is 100,000 passionate supporters waiting for a grand final to begin.

It’s the build up before the game. The line of people out the front of Gate 2 at dawn that spirals its way messily up past Jolimont Station. The BBQs and gatherings in Yarra Park hours before the match.

The kick-to-kicks that burst out everywhere like spot fires. The sudden burst inside and the empty outside, only for the noise upon entering the colosseum to drown out any thoughts you have in your head.

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Essendon Bombers fans AFL 2017

Fans of the Bombers at the MCG. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

This is nothing against other grounds – they have their own unique aspects that make them amazing in their own way. But for a stadium that has seen so many great moments, so many dazzling marks and Premiership-winning goals, can any newly built ground rival this history?

You can feel the energy in there. The old boy has facilitated this history. You can’t just go wrench its crowning jewel away from it. That would be a travesty.

The other main reason why I disagree with Scott’s comments is the economic benefit the game has. Not just for the AFL, but for Victoria and hence Australia. The entire grand final week is one long celebration in Melbourne.

There are public holidays, events all around the CBD and the press is dominated by the game.

Everything relates to the MCG on that Saturday, and therefore more money is spent. Local businesses around the east Melbourne area would make enormous profits. Then the hotels all in Victoria would benefit immensely.

AFL Fans leaving the MCG

AFL Fans leaving the MCG (Charles Van den Broek/flickr)

That isn’t including the actual game. grand final tickets, despite there being over 100,000 of them available, are so highly sought after.

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Corporate packages are snapped up (perhaps by the wrong type of ‘supporters’) and hordes of people trek to the ground even if they don’t have a ticket.

It’s a crucial day for the AFL to make money. The TV deals and viewership allow ads and sponsorship, equalling more money.

If there’s 40,000 fewer tickets available, the monetary loss would be pointless when you could host it at a venue that has been used for the majority of the game’s history.

Therefore, this is why I think Scott’s comments are misguided. Maybe it’s a push for Geelong to host a final at their home ground.

But it doesn’t mean you can tarnish the history of the AFL, grand finals and the sanctum that is the MCG.