Forget the hype over 2020 being the first ever night-time AFL grand final, there’s a strong chance it will be the first dry one with fans unable to get a XXXX.
Forget the hype over 2020 being the first ever night-time AFL grand final, there’s a strong chance it will be the first dry one with fans unable to get a XXXX.

Grand Final shock: No pies and no beer?

It's like Christmas without Santa - a Grand Final with no pies and beer.

But this could be the price Queensland has to pay for the 30,000 fans it hopes to pack into the Gabba on October 24 for the historic AFL showpiece.

News Corp understands there is currently nothing written into the Gabba's contract with the AFL about food and beverage provisions and there is enormous doubt over whether fans will be allowed to visit the bar during the big game.

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How will Gabba fans handle a grand final with no beer? Picture: AAP Image/Darren England
How will Gabba fans handle a grand final with no beer? Picture: AAP Image/Darren England

The Gabba has coped fine with maintaining social distancing in food and beer queues for regular season AFL crowds of up to 15,000.

But unless Queensland health officials can be convinced that leaving your seat for a XXXX at quarter-time can be safely managed when the crowd is doubled to a near-capacity 30,000, the AFL's first ever night-time Grand Final might be the first dry one too.

Queensland may prove that an AFL Grand Final outside Victoria is still every bit a Grand Final, but what if you can't get a beer?

Gabba sources confirmed there are still a lot of details to do with Grand Final day operations which will remain fluid until closer to the event.

Much will depend on Queensland health and how they feel closer to October 24, with even the 30,000 crowd number yet to be set in stone unless the rate of community transmission can be controlled.

The Gabba concourse can be narrow in parts and plans are underway regarding moving people safely during the grand final. Picture: Adam Armstrong
The Gabba concourse can be narrow in parts and plans are underway regarding moving people safely during the grand final. Picture: Adam Armstrong

"The Gabba has been operating under a scalable COVID-Safe site plan since June, which currently has approval or up to 50 per cent capacity (around 20,000) and includes a number of measures around bar/catering areas such as segregated zones, queue markers and cashless transactions," said Gabba General Manager, Mark Zundans.

"As the broader community would appreciate, the pandemic situation is changing daily, and the response is in line with it.

"The Gabba has worked very closely with Queensland Health throughout the pandemic response and this will continue as we plan and prepare for this iconic event in Queensland.

The State's Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeannette Young said there could be no guarantees.

"We should be able to have that 30,000 but that 30,000 is not an absolute given," said Dr Young.

"The plan is, depending where we are in Queensland on October 24, we'll make a decision whether it's safe to have that 30,000."

The AFL is in the process of formulating a COVID safe plan for the Gabba Grand Final.

Plans must be presented to all state governments before hosting matches.

This plan includes regulations about social distancing around common areas including food and beverage outlets.

An AFL spokesman said planning and details would be worked through over the coming eight weeks before the Grand Final.

MORE AFL NEWS:

How 'Lethal' Leigh brought AFL GF to the Gabba

NRL boss ridicules AFL's Queensland plan

One of the reasons why the Gabba has been permitted to host crowds of up to 20,000 is that social distancing at beer and food queues can be maintained with that number of patrons.

However, the great unknown is what happens when the crowd swells? Could the same safety standards be guaranteed?

The Gabba concourse can be narrow in parts and a system would need to be orchestrated where masses of patrons weren't congregating in tight areas, stairwells and exits.

Bringing a packed lunch from home may be the most sensible option.

It's also possible fans might be asked to wear masks, after advice from Queensland Health last week that the practice was advised in public areas.

Originally published as Grand Final shock: No pies, no beer?


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