'Glorified training ground': AFLW slammed for 'absolutely amazing' GF call

‘Glorified training ground’: AFLW slammed for ‘absolutely amazing’ GF call

The AFL has come under fire for allowing Brisbane to host the AFLW grand final at a venue that is “nothing more than a glorified training ground”.

On Friday, the Lions won the right to host the seventh season decider, but with the larger Gabba Stadium and Metricon unavailable, Brisbane turned to their new base in Springfield.

Remarkably, the brand new $80 million Brighton Homes Arena only has 600 grandstand seats and can hold up to 8,000 people.

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Fox Footy’s AFLW pundit Chyloe Kurdas questioned whether the right decision was made to send the game to Springfield – where the Lions’ players have yet to hit the turf.

“It’s an interesting decision,” she said Friday night.

“It only holds 8,000 people, it was a rush to get it ready, will the surface be OK?

“There will be a lot of questions, a lot of eyes. I think the competition is not yet ready to say no to growth.

The Lions still have a chance to host the AFLW finals | 01:08

“When you’ve got venues that hold 30/40/50,000 next week, I don’t know if that’s the right call.

SEN journalist Sam Edmund also questioned the choice of Brighton Homes Arena, where Brisbane will play either Melbourne or North Melbourne.

“He never held a match – just for God’s sake the turf was laid,” he said.

“Maybe there will be an AFLW grand final, which history has shown can attract more than 50,000 people.”

AFLW grand finals have attracted an average of 23,000 fans across the five deciders, with Adelaide Oval hosting the last three – including the 2019 grand final, which was attended by an incredible 53,034.

3AW journalist Tom Elliott believes Marvel Stadium would be a better choice for the AFLW given its capacity.

The Lions will not be afraid of drama at the venue of GF | 00:44

“They’re talking about a football field called Springfield, which is nothing more than a glorified practice field,” he said this week.

“I find that absolutely amazing.

“The AFL keeps saying it’s serious about women’s football – play the grand final at Marvel Stadium!

“If 50,000 people want to rock out and watch two of the best women’s teams go head-to-head … they’re going to play it at Marvel Stadium here in Melbourne because Marvel Stadium is owned by the AFL and they’ll be done with it.

“Don’t give home field advantage.” Just not have the women’s grand final on the training track.’

Fox Footy’s David King believes the AFL has set a precedent when it comes to prioritizing crowd size by allowing Richmond to lock thousands of fans out of last weekend’s elimination final.

Tigers stand at home final decision | 01:15

The Tigers chose to play their home final at the club’s ‘spiritual home’ of Punt Road – which only held a few thousand fans.

“Richmond has set the course here – it’s not about the amount of people you can get into the venue,” King said on SEN.

Edmund feared the AFL had “entered a battle they cannot win” by moving the AFLW season to later in the year – outside its usual summer time slot.

With the grand final in November instead of March/April, Brisbane’s bigger stadiums, the Gabba and Metricon Stadium, are already booked.

The Gabba remains under cricket authority – with the Sheffield Shield and Australia Test in the coming weeks, while the Metricon Stadium hosts a music festival featuring international superstar Calvin Harris.

The Gabba will not be available for the AFLW GF | 00:36

“Every year there’s a debate between interstate clubs: ‘We want a grand final in Perth, Adelaide, whatever.’ That will never happen with the MCG contract. I think that’s admirable, but with this new time slot in the calendar, they’ve gone straight into a battle with cricket that they can’t win,” he said.

Even Lions star Emily Bates admitted the players were yet to get onto the freshly laid Brighton Homes Arena turf.

“While the turf was only laid a month ago, we traveled to a nearby community pitch to practice,” she said after the preliminary final victory.

“(But) we’ll be able to practice on it this week.”

In a statement, the AFL confirmed it had carried out an “independent turf inspection” this week where the ground was deemed “fit to play on”.

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