Watching last night’s NRL grand final served only to underline why the AFL
should get off the fence and introduce its own night grand final from 2006.

Imagine the anticipation of a newly rebuilt 100,000 capacity
MCG packed to the rafters for a night Grand Final; together with the
massive
pay-off for the final year of the Ten network’s finals’ coverage under
the
current consortium’s TV deal. As surely
as night follows day it’s only a matter of time before the AFL follows
the lead of the NRL and the Australian Open tennis final to
embrace a massive prime-time evening audience, so why delay any longer?
It would also add further value to its
overall media rights package, which is now under negotiation.

Putting aside the players’ natural reticence to see the
day-time tradition disappear, the league already plays a significant chunk of
the fixtures and most finals at night, so why not the big one? Sure, the players and competing clubs will
have an additional few hours of match-day nerves, but that also can be
offset with increased prize money to both combatants from the windfall income,
while more importantly the sense of anticipation and build up to the evening by
the football public will be even greater.

If the NRL can manage to adapt its corporate hospitality
needs to a night Grand Final then there’s no reason why the AFL
can’t follow suit and also allow more people to watch nationally and
throw Saturday night parties whether at home or in clubs, pubs and other public
outlets, let alone offer a much friendlier live TV timezone to a lot of the
rest of the world.

Really, it’s a no-brainer when you look at how well the NRL game
presented itself last night against that brilliant evening stadium backdrop. A night-time MCG would look even more sensational
and surely inspire any player that here was indeed a field of dreams to rival
any in world sport.

Peter Fray

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