MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The Australian Football League "Grand Final", one of the nation's most iconic sporting fixtures, will be held at the Gabba in Brisbane on Oct. 24 and played at night for the first time, the league said on Wednesday.
The championship decider of the Australian Rules top flight has been played as an afternoon fixture in Melbourne throughout its history but the southern city has been ruled out of hosting amid a hard lockdown due to a second wave of COVID-19 infections.
"It my pleasure to formally announce the AFL Grand Final will be played in Queensland at the Gabba," AFL Chief Executive Gill McLachlan told a media conference at the league's quarantine hub in Brisbane.
"This was an extraordinarily difficult decision.
"It's the first time we've ever played our Grand Final at night, giving us the opportunity to make it a truly unique event."
Despite being a stronghold of rival code rugby league, Queensland state, of which Brisbane is the capital, has hosted the majority of AFL games this season due to the Melbourne outbreak forcing 10 of the league's 18 teams out of the sport's heartland in southern Victoria state.
New South Wales and traditional Aussie Rules states South Australia and Western Australia had also bid to host the Grand Final, which is usually played in late September and packs 100,000 spectators into the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The match, akin to the NFL Super Bowl in the United States, provides a major financial boost to the AFL and millions of dollars in tourism revenue from thousands of travelling fans.
The economic benefit will be reduced this year, with the maximum crowd at the Gabba expected at 30,000 and with domestic travel restrictions between Australia's states.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)