State eyes a triple treat of sporting blockbusters
The Labor Government could head into the state election on the back of three major sporting events, with Queensland in pole position to host the AFL grand final and the first two Bledisloe Cup Tests in October.
Queensland yesterday delivered a compelling pitch to the AFL's top brass to host this year's decider, with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Tourism Minister Kate Jones and delegates from a bid working group meeting via video link with AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan and AFL Commission chairman Richard Goyder to sell the plan for a Sunshine State festival of football.
Meanwhile, Rugby Australia is planning for both the first two Bledisloe Cup Tests against New Zealand, on October 10 and 17, to be played at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium.
Suncorp Stadium was already scheduled to stage Bledisloe II on October 17, but the need to maintain a secure bubble for both the Wallabies and All Blacks means the most effective solution is likely a centralised mini-hub in Queensland.
AFL bid chairman Tony Cochrane, of the Gold Coast Suns, said the pitch to host the grand final - which could be held on October 17 or 24 - focused on Queensland's response to COVID-19, as well as how the state helped sustain the AFL, other codes and other sports in what had been "an incredibly challenging atmosphere".
"Judge us on our performance," he said.
Mr Cochrane, a former boss of V8 Supercars and an event promoter who has been able to lure some of the world's biggest music acts to Queensland, said Brisbane was right in the mix to host the first AFL grand final outside Melbourne in the game's 124-year history.
"This is such a big mountain to climb but we gave it a red hot go," he said.
Insiders believe the grand final is Queensland's to lose, despite fierce competition from WA, SA and even NSW.
Mr Cochrane said Queensland's unwavering support of the AFL season should hold the bid in good stead compared to rivals.
"WA seems to change their mind on their COVID stance as often as their underwear," he said.
"We have been consistent since May."
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said hosting the grand final was a golden opportunity to grow the game in Queensland and to "put on something truly historic".
"Everyone would prefer the grand final to proceed in Melbourne. If it can't, Queensland is ready," Ms Palaszczuk told The Courier-Mail.
"If the AFL does us this honour we won't let them, the clubs or the people who love the game.
"We know what it's like to deal with natural disasters and after each one we can always count on Victorians for help.
"Being in a position to host the season is very much our way of repaying the many kindnesses Victorians have shown to us time and time again."
Part of Queensland's sales pitch also includes hosting glittering soirees for the Brownlow Medal, Rising Star and All-Australian awards during the grand final build-up, with The Star Gold Coast casino and Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre firming to host all or some of the marquee events.
A Gold Coast version of the Brownlow - arguably the glitziest sporting event in the country - would receive an enormous boost by the presence of some of the sport's most glamorous WAGs, who have been in Queensland for weeks and would not have to go into hotel quarantine.
Brisbane Lions supporter Adam Carlson has attended 14 AFL grand finals over the past 19 years - including Brisbane's threepeat - has no doubt the Gabba can replicate the excitement of the big day, even with a smaller crowd than the MCG.
He believes Queensland's AFL fans will be lining up in droves for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
"It's a really good opportunity for the AFL. They've been trying to build the game in Queensland for a while now," he said.
A decision on hosting rights for the decider is expected by mid-next week.
Originally published as State eyes a triple treat of sporting blockbusters