If reports from News Corp are to be believed, it appears that South Australia has edged ahead of New South Wales and Queensland in the bid to become the first state to host the AFL’s Magic Round, a concept that sees all football games for an entire round played in the same city.
The Magic Round, an idea borrowed from the NRL which initiated the concept in 2019, will be a massive coup for the state that wins the rights to hold all of the fixtures with the tourism boost likely to be substantial. The inaugural 2019 NRL round saw $20 million generated across the weekend and a fantastic atmosphere with all the league’s stars and fans from across the country creating a festival of footy.
The financial incentive for the AFL teams has also been touted as being quite lucrative, with cash injections to be around $500,000 for each club. The financial offer from South Australia, reported to be around $10 million, as well as the promise of playing the round in an AFL stronghold, is what has apparently pushed SA to the front of the pack.
In the case that the AFL does announce South Australia as the winner, it’s understood that of the nine matches to be played on the Magic Round weekend, six games will be held at Adelaide Oval while the remaining games will be played in a regional area at places like Elizabeth Oval, Norwood Oval, Prospect Oval, Thebarton Oval and/or Glenelg Oval.
As a consequence of adding the Magic Round to the AFL fixture, it’s expected that the season will be extended to 23 Rounds. The extra week of the season will be taken from pre-season. Nevertheless, the AFL has not confirmed any details—location or otherwise—for Magic Round 2023.
However, Geelong chief executive Steve Hocking said, “my understanding is it’s going to land in the second week of the school holidays which means young people, young kids, get to connect with the game. When you take over a state, that’s unbelievably good for football.”
For now, we’ll just have to wait and see what the AFL decides. No matter what, though, the AFL’s Magic Round will surely be a welcome fixture for whichever state does win.