Ever since way back in 1902, the MCG has been the home of the AFL Grand Final, aside from a handful of occasions when it was unavailable for various reasons. And with a contract in place until 2058 to see it remain there, that doesn’t seem likely to change any time soon. Many AFL fans – most notably those living in Melbourne – have no qualms with the agreement, but there are plenty of vocal dissidents as well. As always, there are valid arguments on both sides of the coin, so let’s take a look at the reasons the AFL Grand Final location should remain the MCG, and the reasons it should be shared around.
Why should it stay at the MCG?
The most notable argument in favour of the MCG as the Grand Final host is a simple one – its capacity. Up to 100,000 can squeeze into Australia’s biggest stadium, and all the alternatives pale in comparison. Perth’s Optus Stadium is the next biggest at around 60,000, and giving up to 40,000 extra fans the opportunity to watch the game live is a big tick in the MCG’s favour.
The concept of tradition is also regularly brought up in this debate. As mentioned, the Grand Final has been held at the ‘G for well over 100 years, and as a result the stadium has developed something of an aura which other grounds cannot compete with. Kids dream of running out on Grand Final Day onto the hallowed MCG turf, not the Adelaide Oval, and traditionalists cite this as an irrefutable reason the game should stay put.
Why should it be played elsewhere?
The most significant point in favour of the game being moved relates to equality. In general, the AFL is extremely committed to ensuring league-wide parity for all teams – except in relation to the AFL Grand Final location. The league, while once a Victorian-only affair, went national well over 30 years ago, and now eight of the league’s 18 teams are from interstate. Since the turn of the century, eight Premiership teams have come from outside Victoria, and of this year’s AFL Premiership favourites, just three of the top eight come from Melbourne. Advocates for this argument would claim that if the league was truly committed to growing the game on a national level, its biggest day would be shared around the country.
While that is unequivocally the most pertinent argument in favour of moving the game, there are also financial incentives which could benefit the AFL if it were moved. Having the game played at a different location each year would involve various state governments bidding
significant amounts of money to have it played in their state, such is the economic benefits from tourism and local spending these states would derive from the game. Just last year, when the game wasn’t able to be played at the MCG and the aforementioned bidding war came to fruition, the Western Australian government bid a huge $35 million – which didn’t even prove to be sufficient as the game was played at the Gabba – for rights to host it at Optus Stadium.
The location of the AFL Grand Final is a debate with passionate advocates of both sides of the argument, and there are certainly logical points to be made by each camp. However, with the current contract running until 2058, it appears likely that interstate supporters’ frustration will continue, and at least for the foreseeable future, the AFL Grand Final will be staying put at the MCG.