How Brisbane over-delivered for guests of Queensland’s first AFL Grand Final
The scoreboard says the Richmond Football Club won the 2020 Toyota AFL Grand Final, but those who were at The Gabba on that unforgettable Saturday evening know that Brisbane was the real victor.
For the nearly 30,000 fans in attendance, and the 3.8 million viewers around the country, the AFL Grand Final confirmed Brisbane’s status as Australia’s premiere destination for sports and entertainment. That wouldn’t have surprised anyone who was here in the days leading up to the event, as the city rolled out the red carpet for its guests and hosted a Grand Final Week to remember.
The AFL Grand Final gave Brisbane a chance to strut its stuff and kick goals on the national stage. It was an uncontested mark the Brisbane Economic Development Agency (Brisbane EDA) wasn’t about to fumble.
In just five weeks, Brisbane EDA worked closely with the AFL to develop a jam-packed program of activations for Grand Final Week, planning and executing 55 memorable activities at live sites throughout the city.
An extensive City Sounds program of live musical performances engaged more than 80 local artists to perform at The Gabba, the Riverstage and throughout the CBD and South Bank. A large screen on the East Lawn at Howard Smith Wharves, as well as school and club programs and partner activations at the scenic City Botanic Gardens, all added to the unmistakable footy festival atmosphere.
Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner says it was amazing to see Brisbane come alive after what had been a difficult year and prove it could still put on a world-class show.
“Brisbane proved without a doubt it is currently Australia’s home of sport and entertainment,” Cr Schrinner says.
“Across the city, residents, visitors and businesses made the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, generating a buzz that will be remembered for a long time.”
All activities were promoted on Visit Brisbane’s Ultimate Guide to the 2020 Toyota AFL Grand Final Week. The site received a 20 per cent increase in traffic during the week, as locals and visitors alike checked to see where they could get out and enjoy the excitement of this unprecedented event.
“After such a long year, we thought it would be some time until we could celebrate like that,” Cr Schrinner says. “What the weekend showed us was that you can have fun in a COVID-safe way and that Brisbane is bouncing back.”
Dressed for success
Brisbane locals and visitors could see and feel the footy fanfare city-wide, with Brisbane EDA managing an extensive city dressing program that blanketed the city in AFL colours.
Street banners, bridge flags and bollard wraps around Brisbane helped excite locals and set the tone for visitors, along with a high-profile billboard at Central Station and promotional slides on the iconic CityCat fleet. Even the Story Bridge and other Brisbane landmarks were lit up in special colours throughout the week to mark the occasion.
Dressing assets were also provided to more than 170 local retailers, transforming venues throughout Brisbane and providing fans with a truly immersive experience.
In total, Brisbane EDA supplied 20,000 coasters; 8,000m of bunting; 6,000 table tent talkers; 3,000 face masks; 900 window decals and 100 feather flags to local businesses – ensuring that wherever visitors went while they were in Brisbane, they could get caught up in Footy Finals fever.
Leaving a legacy
While AFL fans are already looking ahead to next season, the legacy of this once-in-a-lifetime event will live on in Brisbane long after the final siren.
Two contemporary Indigenous art murals at two local AFL clubs, both commissioned by Brisbane EDA, will serve as a lasting reminder of the key role Brisbane played in the 2020 AFL season.
Artists Birrunga Wiradyuri and Kane Brunjes worked together on the murals, which were inspired by the 2020 AFL Grand Final’s marketing campaign, ‘Believe in the Unbelievable’ – a particularly apt message given the challenges that had to be overcome in 2020.
‘The Journey’, at Yeronga AFC, tells the story of the 2020 AFL season, featuring crosshatch representations of the players. The mural reads from left to right, chronologically articulating the entire AFL season from Round One through to the Grand Final.
‘The Challenge’, at Zillmere AFC, depicts the obstacles of the 2020 campaign. The mural features an AFL football with goal posts on either side, as well as the full roster of AFL teams and the 2020 Premiers, including the prestigious Premiership Cup.
AFL Queensland CEO Dean Warren says the murals will help ensure that this momentous event is not forgotten, and might even inspire local kids to go on and play in another AFL Grand Final in Brisbane.
“This has been a historic and unforgettable year for AFL in our state,” he says.
“To see these incredible artworks capture the moment, forever in time is a wonderful tribute. We hope that the murals continue to inspire hundreds of kids across our city and state to believe in their dreams of playing at the highest level, and that anything is possible.”