AFLW Grand Final venue: Cairns vying for decider
The AFL is exploring the possibility of playing the AFLW Grand Final in Cairns if the Brisbane Lions qualify, among a host of potential venues.
The AFL is studying the possibility of playing the AFLW Grand Final in Cairns if the Brisbane Lions qualify.
With just four teams remaining in the premiership race, the venue for the grand final – which is due to be held on the weekend of November 26-27 – remains up in the air. Unlike the men’s competition, the AFLW Grand Finals are usually held in the hometown of the highest ranked qualifier.
The Lions will be that team if they beat Adelaide in Friday night’s preliminary round at the Metricon Stadium in Gold Coast. But the picture of where the Lions would host the grand final is much less clear. The Gabba has been ruled out due to preparations for Test Cricket between Australia and South Africa, while Metricon are hosting music events this weekend and are also unavailable.
Brisbane’s new training base at Springfield has yet to host a match and there are serious doubts whether the ground would be ready to host such a big game.
This left the league looking for creative options. Industry sources have confirmed that the AFL are considering scheduling the game for Cazaly Stadium in Cairns, which has a capacity of 13,500. The venue has never hosted an AFLW match, but occasional AFL matches have been played at the ground for over a decade, while Australia have faced New Zealand in three games one-day cricket internationals from the field earlier this year.
Playing the game in Cairns would at least give the Lions the home state advantage. Another possibility is for the game to be played at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, in which case the Lions would give up that advantage but could play in front of their contingent of Victorian fans. Brisbane haven’t given up hope of playing the game at Springfield either.
The other preliminary final will be between Melbourne and North Melbourne at Ikon Park on Saturday. A Melbourne-Adelaide grand final would be held in Melbourne, with AFL-owned Marvel in pole position to host in that event.
An Adelaide North grand final – the least likely outcome of the finals standings – is set to take place in Adelaide according to the standings; although the cricket and music commitments on either side of the Grand Final weekend create a challenge to play the game at Adelaide Oval, where three AFLW Grand Finals have already taken place. Suburban Unley Oval is another consideration if the Crows win the right to host the game.
The scheduling issues were largely caused by the decision to move the season from early January to early August.
This is not the first time there have been issues with the venue for the AFLW Grand Final. In 2017, the Lions hosted the Crows at Metricon after the Gabba was ruled unavailable due to concerns over his cricket ground.
AFL women’s football chief Nicole Livingstone said earlier this month that the league remains uncommitted to a grand final.
“We won’t be making any announcements regarding (the) grand finale at this time,” Livingstone said.
“Because we still have to wait to see who will make the grand final.
“We will continue to work with all stakeholders. We have a great relationship with cricket so we will continue to talk cricket and also talk to the Queensland Government (about the Gabba).
“But I don’t want to put the cart before the horse – we have to make sure Brisbane is the host.”