The AFL has come under fire for allowing Brisbane to host the AFLW grand final at a venue that cannot accommodate a befitting crowd size.
On Friday the Lions secured the hosting rights for the season decider by defeating the Crows 46-23 in the first preliminary final at Metricon Stadium.
But with the Gabba and Metricon Stadium both unavailable for next Sunday’s grand final because of prior commitments, Brisbane has been forced to turn to its brand-new base at Brighton Homes Arena as its only alternative venue.
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The announcement follows Richmond’s controversial decision to keep its semi final at Punt Road despite the ground being limited to just 2500 fans and ticket demand exploding.
In repeat circumstances, the $80 million training and administration center in Springfield can only hold up to 8000 people – seating just 600.
With previous AFLW grand finals drawing an average of 23,000 fans – including the 2019 decider which was attended by a whopping 53,034 people at Adelaide Oval – the ground is a questionable choice.
Speaking to Nine’s Sports Sunday, women’s sport advocate and GWS Giants player Chloe Dalton said by striving to honor a Brisbane grand final, the AFL was limiting the spectacle to a smaller venue.
“[The AFL is] trying to provide Brisbane with a home-ground advantage, but you really want to get the big crowds in for matches like the AFLW grand final,” she said.
Former Essendon captain Brendon Goddard also labeled the decision as “disappointing” given the huge rivalry and rich history between the two teams since the AFLW’s inception.
With the facility previously not intended to be open to the public until December, several projects have had to be accelerated to have the ground ready in time for the grand final – including laying the turf.
In light of the criticism, Lions CEO Greg Swann defended the club’s right to play in front of its local fans and prioritizes a home-ground advantage.
“Brighton Homes Arena is an AFL-accredited stadium, with full broadcast compliance, excellent public transport and parking, expansive home and away team, and official’s facilities. It’s the best of its class for women’s sport in the country and will go a long way in helping the growth of women’s and girl’s footy in Queensland,” he said in a club statement.
“Significantly, it is the first gender-equal facility in Australia, with all facilities provided for the AFL program replicated for our AFLW program; locker room size, office space, recovery facilities, you name it.
“It’s been designed as a uniquely Queensland venue – taking advantage of spectators being able to sit on the hill with their family and friends and have a festive feel with food trucks and entertainment.
“I’d like to thank the Queensland and Australian governments, Ipswich City Council, the AFL, our partners, staff and everyone involved for their efforts to have Brighton Homes Arena ready to be opened this Sunday and for their enthusiastic support of women’s footy. I can’t think of a better way to show it off to the world.”
2022 AFLW Grand Final
Sunday, November 27
Brisbane Lions vs Melbourne Demons, 2.40pm AEDT/ 1.40pm local time at Brighton Homes Arena.
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