K rock Football

Gabba gets Grand Final nod

The Gabba will host the 2020 AFL Grand Final. (AFL Photos/Jono Searle)

BRISBANE’S Gabba ground will host this year’s AFL grand final as the competition’s showpiece game leaves Victoria for the first time.

The premiership decider will be shifted from its usual afternoon time slot and be played at night, with at least 30,000 fans slated to attend the October 24 spectacle.

AFL chief executive Gillion McLachlan says moving the grand final was the “biggest decision of all” in a season disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The AFL Commission ruled on key criteria including safety, integrity of the competition, fan engagement, financial support for the game and long-term legacy.

“In another historic first, the grand final will be scheduled for the night of Saturday 24th of October, with the the exact start time to be confirmed,” McLachlan told reporters on Wednesday.

Adelaide Oval was on standby to host the grand final, should a COVID-19 outbreak in Queensland impact the planed Gabba game.

The shift was forced by Victoria’s COVID-19 breakout putting that state into lockdown, ruling out the grand final’s traditional venue, the MCG.

The grand final has been played away from the MCG only once in the last 74 years, when Melbourne’s Waverley Park hosted the 1991 game because of MCG construction works.

State governments of Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and New South Wales bid to host the match.

But Queensland was always in the box seat given the assistance the state has provided to the AFL to help keep the season afloat.

Queensland has hosted numerous clubs in hubs and the majority of home-and-away games have been played in the state.

The time slot will avoid a clash with horse racing’s Cox Plate and appeal to broadcasters, who expect a massive television audience in prime time.

Premiership contenders West Coast (Optus Stadium) and Port Adelaide (Adelaide Oval) are expected to host any home finals at their regular home grounds in the lead-up to the grand final.

(C) AAP 2020