The AFL grand final will once again kick goals for Victoria’s economy, as thousands of Greater Western Sydney fans pay no mind to giant last-minute expenses.
Carrying hopes of snaring a maiden AFL premiership, GWS fans will also bring with them plenty of tourist dollars this weekend.
Giants members only took up a fraction of their 17,000 allocated tickets for Saturday’s MCG blockbuster against hot favourites Richmond, forfeiting the rest to Tigers fans who missed out in the original ballot.
Most will take to the air to get there, boosting sales for carriers Qantas and Virgin.
But flight prices for away fans haven’t surged as high as the past five years when heavily supported West Coast, Adelaide and Sydney Swans reached the decider.
Economist Tim Harcourt still expects interstate visitors to flood into Victoria in what will be the final opportunity of the season for airlines, hotels, restaurants and other businesses to score.
“The AFL grand final is always a chance for business to make a profit,” the UNSW Business School fellow said.
“In 2018, the estimated total net-economic contribution of all AFL matches to host cities was $700 million, including nearly $340 million just for Melbourne.
“That makes travel agents and hotels salivate.”
Mr Harcourt estimated the AFL grand final was worth $125 million to Victoria’s economy in 2015.
The grand final isn’t going anywhere anytime soon either, with the state government last year signing a controversial $500 million deal to lock in the MCG as its home until at least 2057.
In more recent times, interstate AFL visitors were estimated to have poured $550.3 million into host cities across 2018.
“It is an industry sector which supports 8,374 full time equivalent jobs, excluding players and umpires,” Mr Harcourt said.
“That generated $6.80 billion in financial contribution to the Australian economy in 2018.”
Victorians may get a chance to repay the economic favour next week as Sydney’s ANZ Stadium hosts the NRL grand final.
Mr Harcourt expects an influx of 20,000 interstate visitors to Sydney for the October 6 finale, with the Melbourne Storm and Canberra Raiders still in the hunt for a spot.
The bump in tourism is predicted to manifest in a $17 million windfall for the NSW economy, and roughly $30 million in total event turnover more broadly.
Sport’s economic impacts shouldn’t be underestimated, Mr Harcourt said, with die-hard fans often willing to spend big in pursuit of sharing in the glory.
“For Australian followers of four codes of football (AFL, NRL, Super Rugby, A-League), too much sport is never enough,” he added.
“It’s one of those feel-good economic events that regardless of the outcome, keeps many Australian businesses booming.”