The regional Victorian town hardest hit by COVID-19 in 2020 wants to help the AFL solve its pandemic-induced scheduling problems.
- All 18 AFL clubs are based in Victoria due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation
- The mayor of the Colac Otway Shire has offered to host AFL games if required
- Preseason matches were held in Colac in 2020 and 2018
For the first time in modern history, all 18 clubs are based in Victoria as the nation grapples with a worsening coronavirus situation and restricted internal travel.
All nine Round 16 matches will be held in Victoria this weekend, with the league confirming details of the last-minute round restructure earlier today that will see the MCG host a double-header on Saturday night.
As it stands, the MCG and Docklands stadium will bear the brunt of the round’s play, with two matches scheduled to be played at Kardinia Park — Geelong hosting Essendon on Friday night before the Swans tackle the Eagles on Sunday.
The AFL has yet to announce a new venue for Adelaide’s match against Brisbane.
AFL olive branch
The regional town of Colac, about two hours south-west of Melbourne, is nestled in something of an AFL breeding ground.
Hawthorn premiership captain Luke Hodge is the town’s greatest sporting product, with nearby Cobden producing current stars Zac Merrett, Sam Walsh, and Ben Cunnington.
The town has hosted two AFL preseason matches, in addition to AFLW matches at Central Reserve.
Colac Otway Shire Mayor Kate Hansen said the town would be more than happy to help the AFL with its scheduling woes and host a season proper match next round.
“Colac’s proven that it can host AFL matches,” Cr Hansen said.
“The ground drains really well, it’s a country football ground overall but a pretty high standard one that’s always looked pretty good.
Colac was the hardest hit regional Victorian town amid last year’s coronavirus crisis.
The town rebuilt off the back of an outbreak at the Australian Lamb Colac abattoir and subsequent scares at the Bulla Ice Cream factory.
Cr Hansen said those experiences meant the town was perfectly placed to host a large event.
“I think like Colac showed with our two pretty serious outbreaks of COVID how resilient the community is, and how well we can organise ourselves,” she said.
The AFL has yet to rule-out hosting a game in a regional centre that has previously not hosted a game for premiership points.
Ballarat’s Eureka Stadium has hosted more than 10,000 fans at previous clashes and is understood to also be in consideration to host matches next round.