The time and venue for this year’s AFL grand final have been locked in, with the league officially announcing the decider will take place in the evening on Saturday, October 24, at The Gabba in Brisbane.
The later date means there will be a pre-finals bye in 2020. The official start time will be confirmed at a later date as the league and broadcasters work through finer details, such as Queensland’s non-observance of daylight savings. The earliest the game will begin is 5:30pm Brisbane time, 6:30pm Sydney/Melbourne time.
The AFL pledged to allow at least 30,000 fans into the ground and, if a COVID outbreak puts this at risk, they’ll either reduce capacity or move the game to the Adelaide Oval.
The Queensland venue had long been the frontrunner to host the big dance, given the state’s low COVID numbers and integral role in allowing the season to continue after the pandemic forced clubs out of Victoria and New South Wales.
But the league today officially confirmed the venue would be the first stadium outside Victoria to host the grand final in VFL/AFL history. Western Australia and South Australia were also candidates, but their stricter border restrictions made the logistics of holding the grand final in either state impossible.
McLachlan dismissed suggestions Perth was a ‘distant third’, but stated their tough border policy put them behind the other candidates and also rules out the possibility of any preliminary finals in Perth.
It will also be the first grand final to be held in an evening timeslot. While it has long been speculated that broadcasters have wanted the grand final moved to the more attractive night slot, the official reason given was to avoid clashing with the Cox plate.
The change in venue also means the AFL’s agreement to host the grand final at the MCG every year has been extended until the end of 2058.
Melbourne Cricket Ground: 1902-1941, 1946-1990, 1992-2019
Junction Oval: 1898-99, 1944
Princes Park: 1942-43, 1945
East Melbourne Cricket Ground: 1900
Waverley Park: 1991
The Gabba: 2020
No grand finals held in 1897 or 1924 – round-robin finals system used