‘Make it full’: Secret push to pack the Gabba for grand final
A bold push is on to lift the COVID cap on crowds at the Gabba for the AFL grand final as Queensland continues to smash the virus.
The crowd for the historic premiership decider on October 24 has been capped at 30,000 but with just two active coronavirus cases in Queensland - the lowest number since July - calls are growing louder for the cap to be lifted.
The AFL grand final is being held away from the 100,000-seat MCG for the first time in the game's history and demand for tickets has swamped supply, especially with the prospect of the Brisbane Lions qualifying.
Officials have been quietly lobbying the Palaszczuk Government in recent weeks to boost the allowable attendance, insiders told The Courier-Mail.
"We're very keen to increase the crowd to at least 35,000, if not full capacity (40,000), and it (lobbying) has been going on in the background," an AFL source said.
"The demand for tickets has just been massive and if the Lions make the grand final, the appetite is going to be insane.
"There hasn't been a community transmission in Queensland for weeks so we reckon there is certainly a very good case for raising the crowd cap."
Queensland has not recorded a case of coronavirus outside quarantine since September 28, with zero cases in 12 of the last 14 days.
The government capped the Gabba crowd capacity at 75 per cent for the grand final, just 5000 more people than the 25,000 who attended the Lions v Richmond qualifying final two weeks ago.
But with the government in caretaker mode ahead of the October 31 election, there are concerns in AFL ranks that any decision on increasing the grand final will be Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young's alone.
"She can basically do what she wants - we can't apply any political pressure," the AFL source said.
He said almost 6000 corporate seats costing up to $3000 each had sold out, and average footy fans were 'screaming' for tickets.
"If the Lions make the grand final, they'll really be screaming," he said.
Gold Coast Suns chairman Tony Cochrane, who played a key role in securing the grand final, said: "This is such a unique opportunity for Queensland and it'd be fantastic to see the ground at maximum capacity, or at least 35,000, if it's humanly possible."
Brisbane Lions legend Jason Akermanis, who played in the club's 2001-2003 triple premiership side, said the Gabba should be full for the grand final.
"The people of Queensland deserve it for all the sacrifices and hard work they've put in keeping COVID at bay," he said.
"If you're governing for the people, the decision's a no-brainer. Just make it full."
But a Queensland Health spokeswoman said there was 'no change' being contemplated for the Gabba grand final crowd.
"Capacity for the AFL grand final, the State of Origin (in November) and any other events held in (Queensland) stadiums remains at 75 per cent," she said.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Health Minister Steven Miles refused to comment, their offices handballing questions to Queensland Health.
Originally published as 'Make it full': Secret push to pack the Gabba for grand final