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WAFC confident of 30,000 strong Optus Stadium grand final crowd

The 2023 WAFL Grand Final is returning to Optus Stadium, with the WAFC saying the decision was a difficult one to reach after the success of the season decider at community grounds in recent years.

The commission announced the decision on Wednesday after a lengthy consultation period, reportedly beating out a strong bid from Steel Blue Oval in Bassendean.

Executive manager of WAFL and Talent Scott Baker said the majority of clubs wanted the game at the 60,000 seat stadium.

“This decision divides opinion, and it divided opinions last year heavily, but this time around, we’re really comfortable with the decision to go back to Optus Stadium,” Baker told Sports Breakfast.

“Financially, it stacks up now. I think last year with Leederville Oval, we only went there on the back of being bumped off from a T20 international, and the year before we had thirty thousand there, so we’re really keen to get back and try to maximise that crowd.

“Confident with the right build-up and the right promotion around that, hopefully a close game like we’ve had the last couple of years, that we can beat that thirty thousand mark and really set a strong platform at Optus Stadium for our grand final day.”

Sell-out crowds created brilliant atmospheres at Leederville Oval last year and at Fremantle Oval in 2020, but Baker said fortune was as important as good planning in those successes.

“We had seven weeks of no football at all on [Leederville Oval], allowing us to get that up to scratch, and you can’t guarantee that’s going happen again this year,” he said.

“I think, in time, if we could get a facility like that a bit more developed, the surface and the surrounds, I think that would become more of a viable and consistent option, but at this point in time, we believe Optus ticks all the boxes.

“We think, like we did in 2021, we can replicate some of the community carnival atmosphere in and around Optus Stadium. In 2021 there was all sorts of activations in and around the ground, we had two and a half, three thousand kids do a junior parade on the ground before the league grand final. On grand final (day), it’s sort of the culmination of all of WA football for us.”

Baker said the projected crowd on the day would depend on what clubs were involved.

“We’re really lucky with VenuesLive, they do us a great deal on Optus Stadium in terms of splitting all the revenue and splitting all the costs, so they take the risk with us so they’re invested in making the day work,” he said.

“Anything above twenty (thousand) will be around breakeven, and once you get over twenty-five and closer to thirty, you actually make a little bit of money and we can pour a little bit of money back into the WAFL clubs and grassroots footy.

“It’s not a real money making exercise, it’s about fan experience and trying to maximise that crowd as best we can, and we think by playing at Optus Stadium, we’ll be able to do that.”

The Grand Final will be played on Sunday the 24th of September, with the WAFL season kicking off on Easter Weekend in early April.

IMAGE: Facebook


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