This is historic. Not in the same way that ANZAC Day itself was historic, but historic nonetheless. I don’t think I could call myself a SYDNEY sports blog and not post about the announcement of the Swans playing against St. Kilda in New Zealand on ANZAC Day next year. I have lots of feelings about it (shocking, I know) and I thought it would be fun for you to join my thought process…
The scene: It’s a normal day and I’m procrastinating, not wanting to work on my assignment. I’m on Twitter reading about First World Problems and my friends who are upset about the Ryan Reynolds-Blake Lively wedding. Suddenly, it pops up: “Saints announce New Zealand game v Swans on ANZAC Day. First AFL game overseas for Premiership points.” And there our story begins…
Ah! The Swans are playing on ANZAC Day! That’s awesome! I get to watch my team play! It’s just the cherry on top that I also get to watch Brendan and Nick (sigh deeply).
(Ten minutes later, I start questioning everything)
“But wait… what about the Collingwood/Essendon game? People are not going to be happy they’re taking that off the air. That’s a stupid idea, AFL. And not that I don’t love the Swans… but why are they involved in this? And why are the Saints? I wonder how much they’re getting out of this deal? I bet the TV rights are ridiculous. It’ll be way better than an All-Star game – it’s been proven again and again that All-Star games are not financially responsible and that games played in other venues are better for business. But who is even going to go to this game? How many people are actually going to fly to New Zealand just to see a football game? Do New Zealanders even like AFL? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to have your first international game played in Ireland? Or England? Maybe this isn’t as awesome as I thought…”
(1 hour later, I read all the articles I can find on the subject and answer my questions. My feelings are just as scattered. )
“(sigh of relief) No worries, Aussies – Collingwood and Essendon will still be playing.” The Swans/Saints game will be broadcast after the traditional game. I still don’t know about this… the idea is great. On one hand, if they can cut to the game quickly enough after the end of the Collingwood/Essendon match, then they’ll have a ridiculous amount of viewers. I can’t even imagine. But on the other hand, those who aren’t as crazy about AFL (and have been spending most of their ANZAC Day pumping beers) might just turn off the TV. It’s more likely to be the first, but it’s still a bit of a risk. Double headers (do you only call them that in baseball?) aren’t for everyone… even the patriotic Australian.*
“So the Saints are going to play some home games in New Zealand. Hm. Not too sure how I feel about that… At least they’re guaranteed $500,000 a game.“ The Saints were clearly chosen because they have made arrangements to play home games in New Zealand over the next three years (one on ANZAC, two in 2014 and two in 2015). Good for them – if you’ve got a cash guarantee, you may as well.
Speaking of which, the payoff from this is going to be HUGE. TV, merchandising, ticket sales, advertising, concession, sponsorship… it’s too big to wrap my head around. I seriously can’t see a downside to this game.
“But why are the Swans involved? Not that I’m complaining…” Who knows why the Swans are getting in on this? Not me! But I’ll be watching, rocking red and white, anyway!
“And where is the information about the TV rights? God, AFL! Why can’t you just make this information public?!” Fox Footy will broadcast the game, but I want to know how much the game is estimated to earn in revenue. This makes much more sense than having an All-Star game, like I’ve said before. Hopefully this will keep the players at bay long enough for league to come up with response to the player’s request for one…
“Oh, good, the members still get their seats. Good from you, St. Kilda. And people will probably go…” Since the Saints are running away to New Zealand, not only are the members offered a seat at Westpac, they’re also offered the option of attending another game, to be announced later. That’s being good to your customers, right there. I’m being convinced that lots of people will attend. It’s ANZAC Day, and (obviously) New Zealand is a part of that so patriots will have no problem spending the holiday in Wellington. Plus, it’s played during winter and New Zealand is Aussie-central during winter months because of their great skiing. Not to mention it’s nearby… so it’s much easier to fly there for a quick holiday than if the game was in, say, Ireland.
“I still think they should have done this in Ireland.” I also think they shouldn’t have been “competing” about the Collingwood/Essendon game. It’s poor form, in my opinion and breaks tradition (even though the Saints did, technically, have the tradition first). While there are no downsides to this game (at least, none that I can see at this point) I still think there were better ways to go about it. I know the AFL wants to expand to New Zealand and eventually have a team there and that New Zealand is the closest, and therefore most convenient, place to do so, but does it make the most sense? Of current players, more are from Ireland/Northern Ireland than New Zealand and overall, the most foreign-born players have come from England. The AFL is also looking at Ireland to recruit new talent. If that’s the case, why didn’t they bring the game there? It seems kinda silly to me, to put it nicely. I can guarantee I’ll be doing a post about that as the game nears…
(The next morning, after letting all this information sink in)
“I have too many thoughts. I’m putting them in a blog post. I don’t care if it makes sense.”
Yea. I think that about catches us up to now… What do you think? Is it a good idea for the AFL to play this game in New Zealand, on ANZAC Day, with the selected teams? What do you think would have been a better option? Is there one? And did this post make sense?
*Just so you know, I will be watching both games. Of course I want to, but my boyfriend will probably be glued to the TV all day, so I also don’t have a choice.