By R.V. Baugus
As our friends in Australia remain on alert for continuing wildfires that started in September, the public assembly venue industry and its tenants are rallying to the cause to help provide financial help in the wake of a disaster that has seen Prime Minister Scott Morrison put a death toll at 27 with more than 2,000 homes burned across an area larger than the size of West Virginia. Experts add that more than 1 billion animals are feared dead from the fires.
Against that backdrop, the AFL Aussie rules football league confirmed that Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium will host a landmark State of Origin match to raise funds for the bushfire relief effort. Victoria will play against an all-star roster on February, with money raised being donated to a community relief fund set up by the AFL to help rebuild Aussie rules facilities demolished by the fires. Already, the AFL has earmarked $926,000 toward the effort. The AFL Women’s match between Collingwood and Melbourne scheduled for February 28 at Victoria Park will now be played at Marvel Stadium as part of a double-header with the State of Origin fixture.
Sydney’s ANZ Stadium is also raising money through a February 16 concert with the “Fire Fight Australia” event including performances from local and international artists.
As firefighters continue battling the inferno, Prime Minister Morrison made it a point to urge the foreign tourists who would now be gathering on the beaches in Australia’s summer to keep their plans while local authorities continue urging evacuation of several coastal towns.
“Our industry is heartbroken by the devastation that the fires are causing around the country and our clubs and players have suggested a number of initiatives where we can support affected communities in the short and longer term as they deal with the aftermath of these fires,” AFL Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan said in a release. “A game of footy can’t change what has happened but it is a way for all of our clubs, our players and our fans to acknowledge the incredible sacrifice that so many have made in battling the fires and to support those communities that have been impacted by the bushfires.”
It is also a shining example of how IAVM member venues always stand at the ready whether as shelters or places where events can take place to help those in needy times.