The Gabba capacity for the game will be 30,000 with the AFL also saying Adelaide Oval in South Australia would be a back-up venue if the coronavirus pandemic meant the game had to be moved.
The finer points of the match were not a concern to members of the Coorparoo Blue under-8.5 team, who play and train at Giffin Park, which is less than two kilometres from the Gabba.
Coached by PE teacher Graham Lobegeiger, the under-8.5 Blue Roos include his son Luke and Lucas Davidson. Players, their parents and family members have been enjoying the glut of games in South-East Queensland but the opportunity to attend the grand final was beyond their wildest dreams.
The Brisbane Lions have used Coorparoo as a training ground over the years with the inner south-east suburban club’s most famous product being Hawthorn legend Jason Dunstall.
The Coorparoo junior club was first established in 1935 and has hosted numerous Queensland state league grand finals.
The Gabba hosted its first QAFL decider in 1907.
The AFL considered the prospect of holding the game at Perth’s Optus Stadium but McLachlan indicated the WA government’s hard border stance and quarantine measures made that difficult.
McLachlan said it was a “close” battle between bidding states, and that it was necessary to have a back-up plan.
“It’s not something we’re contemplating, but it’s incumbent on us to have that plan,” he said, adding the capacity at the Adelaide Oval would also be about 30,000.
“All the presentations I think were excellent – all states I think have their points of strength.”.
McLachlan said the AFL was open to the higher-ranked teams choosing the venue in which finals were played but the AFL was still finalising details.
In acknowledging the move, Victorian sports minister Martin Pakula said: “We’ve acted in the interests of Victorians and all footy fans – this is a one-off deal in a one-off year that means the grand final can be played in front of supporters, as it should be.
“The pandemic is a life and death battle and we cannot risk our hard-fought gains for the sake of rushing back to crowds before it is safe.”
The grand final eve public holiday in Victoria will be retained, on Friday October 23.
Channel 7 applauded the decision to host a grand final at the Gabba in prime time with their CEO James Warburton highlighting the strength of the partnership between the AFL and the broadcasters.
Peter Ryan is a sports reporter with The Age covering AFL, horse racing and other sports.