THE 2020 Toyota AFL Grand Final will be played at night at the Gabba on Saturday, October 24.
In an historic decision reached by the AFL commission on Tuesday and announced Wednesday, the Queensland state government was rewarded for its preparedness to allow the AFL home and away season to continue after the COVID-19 pandemic forced Victoria - where 10 of the 18 clubs are based - into shutdown.
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Four states pitched for this year's Grand Final, with South Australia, Western Australia and New South Wales also presenting strong commercial cases.
SA was effectively the runner-up, with the AFL announcing it had earmarked Adelaide Oval as the back-up venue for the Grand Final, should a contingency plan be required due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The official start time of the 2020 Grand Final will be determined at a later date, but in announcing that it would be a "night game", the AFL is clearly avoiding a time clash with the Cox Plate to be held at Moonee Valley on the same day.
Under the deal struck with the Queensland government, and pending ongoing approval from that state's health authorities, a crowd of 30,000 will be able to attend the Grand Final.
It will be the first time a Grand Final has been played outside of Victoria, and Queensland will host a festival of football in the build-up, from far north Queensland to the Gold Coast.
The AFL also revealed Wednesday there would again be a bye weekend after the completion of the home and away season.
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AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan wouldn't divulge the AFL's full plans around venues for finals before the Grand Final – qualifying and elimination finals in week one, semi-finals in week two and preliminary finals in week three – but answers to several questions at his media conference indicated the following:
- Perth's Optus Stadium would likely only be used in week one and not thereafter, due to strict WA border protocols;
- The Adelaide Oval could be used for the first three weeks of finals;
- Victorian based clubs, should they qualify highest for a final against Brisbane, could be given the right to play that match at Adelaide Oval.
McLachlan said Queensland provided the AFL with a competition lifeline when it needed it most.
"This has been a season like no other and I want to thank the Queensland community and the Queensland government led by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk for their support and for wholeheartedly welcoming our game to the state," McLachlan said.
"This is an exciting opportunity for our code and we look forward to now working with the Queensland Government to successfully stage the 2020 Toyota AFL Grand Final – the biggest event on the AFL calendar - and share it with the community right across Queensland.
"The Queensland presentation was world class and, while the 2020 Toyota AFL Grand Final will be the centrepiece, an extensive promotional campaign for the sport of Australian football, including multiple regional locations throughout Queensland, will bring fans closer to footy in the lead-up to the event and provide a lasting legacy."
With its state immersed in the country's strictest COVID-19 restrictions, the Victorian government was forced to concede that its deal to host the AFL Grand Final at the MCG until at least 2057 could not be honoured.
As part of those dealings, the AFL has agreed to extend the arrangements to play Grand Finals at the MCG until 2058.