September 27, 2022 | By Graeme Kemlo

While Melbourne still struggles to fill CBD offices thanks to the pandemic driven work from home culture, the weekend’s AFL Grand Final showed what the city excels at – drawing massive crowds to major sporting events.

After two years’ absence from its traditional home at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), with COVID forcing the event to relocate to Brisbane in 2020 and Perth in 2021, the 2022 AFL Grand Final has generated an estimated $300 million spend in Melbourne, some of it through incentive rewards for corporate Australia.

Up to 30,000 interstate visitors were among the record MCG football crowd of 100,044, who would have spent about $2,000 each – $300 to $435 for an MCG seat, airfares of at least $400, two nights’ hotel accommodation at about $1,000 plus food and drink.  Executive suites, of which the MCG has dozens holding from 12 to 18 guests, cost $395 to $3,150 per person.

Apart from spectators live at the MCG, the game was telecast to 6.8 million Australians and millions more around the world, delivering ‘Brand Melbourne’ to viewers in India, China, the Middle East, Europe, the UK and the USA. Melbourne is also set to further the brand positioning through the next six months via the upcoming Moto GP, the Spring Racing Carnival, international cricket, the Australian Open tennis grand slam and the Formula 1 Grand Prix in March 2023.

Benefits for Geelong

The spoils of a bumper football season will also flow on to Victoria’s second city, Geelong, after the Cats won their tenth Premiership and took home a $1.2 million purse plus the glory of hoisting the trophy.  Beyond the 100-minute football battle against Sydney, the Geelong Football Club expects to attract up to $5 million in merchandise sales, millions more in 2023 sponsorship dollars and hopes to add up to 30,000 new members over the next three years.

It will also complete work on a $42 million stage five redevelopment of the club’s facilities at its Kardinia Park home ground, which includes extensive business event venues, from smaller corporate suites to function spaces for several hundred.  Grandstand seating will also be increased to 40,000.

Geelong is riding a wave of excitement with new hotels planned to cater for its role in the Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games, a new convention and exhibition centre, the move of the Spirit of Tasmania port from Port Melbourne to a new Geelong terminal, the re-establishment of international cruise ship visitation and the return of international visitors to the Great Ocean Road.

At a recent event in Melbourne CBD, Business Events Geelong members were excited at the new opportunities being presented to their region and the on-field success of their football team is icing on the cake – more than a game, footy is a psychological boost for a city that has suffered its share of setbacks over past decades, from corporate financial failures to the loss of its automobile manufacturing base as well as recent pandemic lockdowns.