‘It’s not about money’: Costs hidden for SA’s nine-game AFL festival

The State Government has reached an agreement with the AFL to host an entire round next season, with all 18 teams to play in South Australia, but Premier Peter Malinauskas has refused to disclose the cost of the venture.

Nov 11, 2022, updated Nov 11, 2022
Premier Peter Malinauskas and AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan. Picture: Jason Katsaras/InDaily

Premier Peter Malinauskas and AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan. Picture: Jason Katsaras/InDaily

Dubbed the “magic round” or “festival of footy”, with an official name yet to be decided, the event is expected to cost taxpayers upwards of $14 million, with Malinauskas saying that the exact figure SA paid for the round was “commercial-in-confidence”.

The additional round of football to the regular fixture will be held over four days from April 13 and see teams play for premiership points on numerous grounds in Adelaide, with the government also pushing for games to be played regionally.

South Australia trumped the only other serious bid from New South Wales with Malinauskas saying the deal was a” big victory for South Australia”. An undisclosed bid from the state’s $40 million major events fund secured the deal.

“I’m not too sure if [the bid] is as much as what New South Wales was putting on the table, but that’s for them to speak about. But it’s not about money – it’s about the jobs that it provides for,” Malinauskas said.

“I’m not going to go into the specifics because is that subject to … commercial-in-confidence and in a way that won’t surprise you.

“We’re confident on all the numbers that we’ve run: we’re making an investment that is going to more than deliver to the taxpayers of South Australia.

“The objective was to get it here first: we wanted to be first I didn’t want anyone else’s sloppy seconds, particularly Sydney’s.”

Premier Peter Malinauskas and AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan with young footy fans. Picture: Jason Katsaras/InDaily

Adelaide Oval and the Pinky Flat Riverbank will form a central hub for the round with a Thursday night opener at Adelaide Oval confirmed for the start of the round, which will coincide with the Easter school holidays.

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It’s understood Adelaide grounds such as Norwood Oval will host matches and options for regional games are being assessed.

“There’s a few options that we’ve put on the table to the AFL. I’ve publically canvassed the Barossa as an option, but we’ve got a range of options around the state to be able to showcase regions that are worth visiting.

“I went to the election and I made it clear that we were going to allocate $40 million to a major events fund to attract new events that are going to fill up our hotel rooms and our hospitality venues.

“Make no mistake, this is a big victory for the state of South Australia. And it’s going to be a huge weekend or footing which everyone in our state but more importantly everyone in our country can enjoy.”

Both the SANFL and amateur leagues will hold a bye over the round.

The concept will not remain South Australia’s indefinitely, with AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan saying the round will be held interstate in future.

“I think South Australia by being so determined to win this bid is in a position to over the next couple of years come back here,” McLachlan said.

“I am also strong that [the round] actually has huge benefits for our game and football supporters in New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland.

“I think we’ve got to prove the concept here, I feel we’re in the right hands to do that, but you know, the transparent answer is I think there’s a payoff for winning it but we also want to go on the road with this.”

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