Time for AFL to embrace night time Grand Final

Picture: Ben Pahor.

After the AFL Grand Final last weekend, besides the fact that Hawthorn is now clearly one of the greatest teams of the modern era, it also became clear the league must embrace a night time Grand Final.

When watching the NRL Grand Final a day later, it became also clear that the day AFL’s Grand Final simply does not have the same atmosphere.

A major benefit of staging the game in the evening, is the improvement that will be seen in the Grand Final entertainment.

The AFL’S entertainment is heavily criticised every year. During the day, out in the middle of the large open expanses of the MCG is not the ideal place for a performance.

Stage the performance at night and all of a sudden the lights, the sound and the impact increases dramatically. Ensuring that the entertainment, not just the game itself becomes a drawcard will be vital to increasing the viewing audience of the game.

The NFL is famous for the Superbowl half time entertainment show. The game is staged at night and they attract huge names each year to perform on the final day of the season. The NFL obviously has a far larger audience just due to the sheer population of the United States. But the fact that the entertainment is at half time, rather than pre-match is also important.

It would be fantastic if the AFL can take a leaf out of the NFL’s book and try to try to build the Grand Final entertainment into an exciting and important part of the day’s events that fans look forward to almost as much as the game itself.

The AFL Grand Final will be sold out every year and get 100,000 fans through the gate regardless of the time of day.

However, for TV audiences, especially for an international audience, if the League is actually serious about growing the game, as it constantly claims, then staging the game at night is a no brainer.

Nearly every major sporting code in the world schedules its championship or grand final game in the evening, with great success.

The NFL, the UEFA Champions League, the NRL, the Australian and US Tennis Championships, the NBA, the MLB, the FIFA World Cup and countless other major sporting codes around the world all stage their finals in the evenings, making for a truly great spectacle.