More AFL matches could be played at Metricon Stadium as part of the league’s hubs plan. Picture: Getty
More AFL matches could be played at Metricon Stadium as part of the league’s hubs plan. Picture: Getty

Gold Coast in box seat to be one of AFL’s hubs

Gold Coast's access to a trio of training grounds next to Metricon Stadium and the easing of Queensland state restrictions has put it in the box seat to be the base of one of the AFL's three hubs to restart football.

Suns chief executive Mark Evans said southeast Queensland ticked every box for a quarantine hub given excellent weather, multiple grounds with broadcast-quality lights and low coronavirus positives.

The league will announce its return-to-play protocols on May 11, with the Herald Sun revealing last week a return to footy as early as June 21 is a realistic chance.

The Gabba and Metricon Stadium would share the workload of six teams playing every five days, with the AFL understood to need two AFL venues with broadcast quality lights.

It is yet to be seen how much the lack of a second current AFL venue in Perth and South Australia counts against those states.

 

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Metricon also has three AFL-standard training grounds adjoining the stadium and resorts including Royal Pines and the Mercure Resort within minutes of the stadium.

It means the state perfectly fits the criteria for a hub where AFL teams would start pre-seasons under heavy quarantine conditions that could ease as the community infections rate drops.

After only three new positives and 103 total live coronavirus cases Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Sunday allowed shopping for non-essential services, picnics, visits to national parks and riding motorbikes, boats or jetskis for recreation.

Evans told the Herald Sun while the league would make its own decision southeast Queensland made plenty of sense as a destination for a football hub.

"The AFL would need to have the ground that can suit broadcasters and potentially host lots of games through the winter months without the grass deteriorating. There would need to be considerations for accommodation and in this part of the world there are hundreds of resorts and options available," he said.

 

The Suns hosted the Power in Round 1 at Metricon Stadium. Picture: Getty
The Suns hosted the Power in Round 1 at Metricon Stadium. Picture: Getty

 

"And there is a reason why so many Victorians and New South Welshmen come here in the middle of the winter. The weather is a big factor in how you feel about the place.

"It has also done a very good job of flattening the curve."

The AFL's players are broadly supportive of the hubs and returning to football but will be canvassed this week about the details including how long they are happy to be in them and whether they are prepared to leave families.

The AFLPA is awaiting more information about what those hubs look like before sending out a survey to the more than 800 mens players which will also cover questions on list sizes and a potential cut to the 2021 and 2022 salary cap.

Clubs believe they could be based in interstate hubs for the first suite of games before eventually descending on Melbourne for the end of the home-and-away season.

Teams that had not yet met in the first dozen matches of the recommenced season would need to finish their season against rival teams.

If all clubs were in Melbourne in the final weeks of the season it would allow them to cross over and fulfil their schedule requirements while also minimising interstate travel.

 

 

Originally published as Gold Coast in box seat to be one of AFL's hubs


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