NORTH Melbourne remains committed to building Good Friday into an annual blockbuster, but club CEO Carl Dilena concedes this year's "disappointing" crowd was a setback for the fixture.
After lobbying since the 1990s to play on Good Friday, North got its wish in 2017 when the AFL finally agreed to fixture a game on the religious holiday.
The Kangaroos took on the Western Bulldogs in that inaugural game and drew a healthy crowd of 42,814 at Etihad Stadium.
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However, when North took on a new opponent, St Kilda, in this year's second Good Friday game, that figure fell to 33,966.
Dilena told the In Review podcast series there was work to be done before Good Friday became an entrenched part of the competition's annual fixture.
"It was not a big enough crowd. it was disappointing in the sense, I think, there were only about 1000 St Kilda members who turned up, not that I want to blame it necessarily on them," Dilena said.
"We want to make it a success. I've had those discussions with the AFL. The AFL needs to put some real focus on it if we want to drive it. The challenge was I'm not sure Gill (McLachlan) was really a big fan of the concept to start with, so there will be a question mark over it.
"One, if you're going to keep doing it make sure you do it right. Let's get the opportunity to have a decent crowd and make it a real event. We've invested a lot of time and energy into it to make it a success.
"The first year with the Bulldogs was a pretty reasonable crowd, it was quite a good start. But last year was in my mind a bit of a backward step, so we either need to get that right or look at how we refresh it."
This season was the first for North and Etihad's other tenant clubs under the new stadium deal negotiated since the AFL assumed ownership of the venue.
Under the former stadium deal, clubs were occasionally forced to write cheques to the venue owner if game attendances fell below the low-to-mid 20,000s.
That is no longer the case under the AFL's ownership with tenant clubs guaranteed a base level of funding for each home game.
However, the widespread expectation tenants would be significantly better off once the AFL took over at Etihad has yet to eventuate, according to Dilena.
"There wasn't a lot of upside for us overall and that's because the deal is largely volume-based or based on the crowds attending," Dilena said.
"I think with the AFL fixture for us this year at Etihad it wasn't a really high-drawing fixture, so the numbers really weren’t there for us this year.
"Into the future if we keep playing well, we'll get a better fixture, we'll get good crowds turning up – not only our members but opposition supporters because we're playing a good brand of footy – then those financials should improve.
"But it certainly wasn't the game-changer that we were all hoping for in 2018."
Listen to the full interview on the In Review podcast, available on nmfc.com.au from Wednesday.