By R.V. Baugus
The Australia Football League (AFL) held its first match last weekend as the country’s first major sporting event since the COVID-19 pandemic began between Port Adelaide and the Adelaide Crows.
Rules on social gatherings meant that the 40,000-seat stadium was able to welcome a “sell-out” crowd of 2,240. Two thousand fans were seated 1.5 meters apart in the stands, with a further 240 guests watching in function rooms across the Oval’s three stands.
The match effectively served as a pilot case for the national Cabinet’s push to reopen stadiums across Australia, and the event was deemed a success.
“We had fantastic support from our patrons for the way in which they cooperated with our people and observed all the protocols we had in place,” said Andrew Daniels, Adelaide Oval chief executive. “There was a great mood the whole night; people were just excited to be back at the footy and our staff loved having them back. For such a comparatively small crowd, there was an incredible atmosphere from the first bounce until the final siren.
“We are very pleased with how our detailed planning played out. We will undertake a full review this week and there will likely be some fine tuning, but we think Adelaide Oval has helped create systems that will give confidence to those making decisions around escalating the return of crowds.”