Brisbane Lions players stand arm-in-arm next to each other singing

Brisbane Lions’ Springfield training facility for AFLW grand final questioned as being too small and limiting

Debate over the venue for this year’s AFLW grand final has rumbled on, with ABC commentator Chyloe Kurdas questioning whether the venue is suitable for the occasion.

The Brisbane Lions will take on Melbourne in this year’s decider at their brand new Springfield training base — so new, in fact, that the team have not even been able to train on it yet.

Brisbane secured home-field advantage in the grand final after claiming the minor premiership over Melbourne by the narrowest of margins.

But, with the Gabba configured for cricket and Carrara unavailable, the Lions had been forced to consider taking the match to Cairns, according to Kurdas.

However, the AFL cleared the newly laid surface at Springfield on Friday, hours before the Lions secured their spot in the decider with a 23-point victory over Adelaide.

“It’s an amazing facility,” Kurdas told ABC Summer Grandstand.

“I guess one of the challenges is that the surface has only been laid a month ago and so the women’s team hasn’t been able to train on it, no one has trained on it yet.

“[Lions star] Emily Bates on Friday night said that it is likely they will get to run around this week for the very first time and they’d be hoping to do that.

“I guess the question is, is it really a home ground advantage when they’ve never had the chance to play on it?”

Kurdas questioned the size of the venue, which holds around 8,000, with just 600 of that capacity seated.

Previous grand finals have been held at the 53,500-capacity Adelaide Oval (three times), 24,500-capacity Princes Park and Carrara Stadium, which holds 22,500.

Had Melbourne earned hosting rights, they would have hosted the game at Docklands, which holds 53,359, while if Adelaide had earned hosting rights, they would have played at the 9,000-capacity Richmond Oval.

With grand final attendances previously averaging just over 23,000, Kurdas said playing the decider in smaller grounds threatened to limit the game’s growth. 

“My head’s still very much around that you’re developing a product and you’re developing a fanbase and trying to attract people to the women’s game that traditionally might not have looked at the game,” she said.

Adelaide Oval entertained 53,034 fans to the 2019 grand final between the Crows and Blues.(Getty Images: Daniel Kalisz)

“And certainly, the biggest game in the calendar year is probably the opportunity to get new eyes.

“I like the concept of a home team final but it does have its limitations.

“It does limit growth and it does limit new access to the game.

“I do think home teams, yes, you should be able to host it, but you should be able to provide a venue that suits the moment, that services the moment.”

Kurdas likened Brisbane hosting the final at Springfield as similar to Richmond hosting their semifinal against the Kangaroos at the 2,500-capacity Punt Road, a controversial decision that Emma Kearney criticised as being too small a venue on The W podcast.

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