Brisbane has defended their decision to play the AFLW grand final at the club’s training venue, labelling the Springfield ground “the best of its class for women’s sport in the country”.
Just weeks after Richmond opted to play their home semi final at Punt Road, limiting the crowd to less than 3000, the Lions will host the AFLW decider at a venue with just a 600-seat grandstand and 8000-fan capacity.
With Gabba unavailable due to the cricket schedule and Metricon Stadium booked for a music festival featuring international superstar Calvin Harris, the Lions were left with little by way of options to stay in Queensland.
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Instead of the game shifting to Melbourne, where it could be played at the AFL-owned Marvel Stadium and fit tens of thousands of fans, the Lions will play the grand final at Brighton Homes Arena in Springfield – the club’s new $80 million training ground that is yet to host a match given turf was only recently laid.
Despite the move being labelled “disappointing” by ex-AFL star Brendon Goddard, Brisbane CEO Greg Swann has backed the venue for the AFLW grand final.
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“Brighton Homes Arena is an AFL accredited stadium, with full broadcast compliance, excellent public transport and parking, expansive home and away team, and officials facilities. It’s the best of its class for women’s sport in the country and will go a long way in helping the growth of women and girl’s footy in Queensland,” he said.
“It’s been designed as a uniquely Queensland venue – taking advantage of spectators being able to sit on the hill with their family and friends, and have a festive feel with food trucks and entertainment.
“I can’t think of a better way to show it off to the world (than with the AFLW decider).”
Fox Footy’s Nick Dal Santo said the AFL should have been proactive from the start of this reshuffled season, which is being played in a different timeslot to the usual AFLW competition.
“I think Springfield sounds like a lovely place. I would have thought when we changed the season to have two seasons in one year, you would have canvassed the teams – and probably more importantly, the teams that were possibly going to be at the pointy end of the year and one of them would have been the Brisbane Lions – and said: ‘Hey, if you are fortunate enough to host a grand final, are you able to provide a venue – one you’ve actually been to before and you want to play at with some sort of an advantage?’,” he said.
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“I just think we’ve missed an opportunity (to hold the grand final at a bigger capacity venue).
“I understand there’s cricket and a concert – a very big concert at Metricon … but I also like this grand final being at home ground that they’ve played at before.”
Western Bulldogs captain Ellie Blackburn said the fact Lions players are yet to even train on the Brighton Homes Arena turf, let alone play a game there diminished the home ground advantage the club had wanted to hold onto.
“You almost lose the advantage a little bit when you’re playing a ground you’ve never played at before,” she said on Fox Footy.
“I don’t know if they’ve ever trained there yet. It’s a bit of an iffy one.”
The AFLW grand final between Brisbane and the Melbourne Demons will be played next Sunday from 1.40pm local time.