Despite crowds not being allowed at AFL fixtures in Victoria until at least Round 22, the bold plan, which would cost the AFL between $2 million and $2.5 million, aims to get 100,000 patrons into the MCG for the September 25 showpiece.
The plan, which is the brainchild of The Big Group’s Bruce Keebaugh and Response Global’s Dr Ian Norton has already been pitched to both the AFL and Visit Victoria, according to McGuire.
Under the proposal, fans with a ticket would need to pass two rounds of COVID-19 testing to enter an ‘MCG precinct’ closed off from the public by a “ring of steel” – one standard PCR test on the Wednesday prior to the grand final and then a Rapid Antigen Test on the day of the grand final, with results for the Rapid Antigen Test expected within 10 minutes.
The proposed grand final precinct would cover the MCG, Margaret Court Arena, Rod Laver Arena, John Cain Arena, the Holden Centre, AAMI Park, Punt Road and Gosch’s Paddock, and would be able to house 200 COVID-19 testing sites.
According to McGuire, the proposal has the support of a number of AFL powerbrokers, and only needs the approval of Victorian Chief Health Officer, Professor Brett Sutton, to go through.
“It works as far as the time is concerned, it works as far as everything is concerned,” McGuire told Nine’s Footy Classified. “This is to get anywhere from 70,000 to 100,000 people [at the grand final].”
“Everyone who needs to like this idea likes the idea. What it has to do is get past the Chief Health Officer and he has to tick it off, and that’s fair enough because that’s his job.
“Everyone I’ve spoken to in my straw polling has said, ‘I’m there, I’ll bring my own stick and put it up my own nose’.”
Individuals attending the grand final would first have to answer screening questions before undergoing a swabbing and a temperature check upon entry. The test would then be linked to the grand final ticket.
The test result would be verified within 10 minutes and linked to the ticket ID before entry is allowed.
While the Rapid Antigen Test has one in 10,000 false positive rate, McGuire stated that individuals who return a false positive would simply undergo another test that would determine their entry.
According to McGuire, if the proposal allows the AFL to successfully host a grand final at the MCG, it could prove to be the pathway to full houses at various events in Melbourne.
“Everyone’s working behind the scenes because if this works, it means the Melbourne Cup will work, it means the Boxing Day Test, the tennis has got a chance, we might get concerts going again,” he said.
If the proposal is knocked back, the AFL has reportedly booked out accommodation in both Perth and Adelaide in the hopes of hosting the grand final at either Perth’s Optus Stadium or the Adelaide Oval.