Every year, no matter who’s playing, AFL grand final tickets are the hottest item in town. The MCG fits just over 100,000 people at capacity and you could probably fill it three or four times over depending on which teams make footy’s big dance. Here’s everything you need to know about how to get a ticket in your hot little hand.
How much do tickets cost?
For a ticket on its own, bought via a club or AFL membership, for example, the cheapest reserved adult ticket costs $155 – and that's for a restricted view and standing room only. The most expensive is $422. The AFL has confirmed that all grand-final tickets have gone up 3 per cent this year.
Rewind to 1984 and a ticket to the Hawthorn v Essendon showdown cost $21 (undercover) or $18 (not undercover) for Hawthorn members. Children’s tickets were half those prices. Members had to queue at Glenferrie Oval.
Actual ticket allocations fluctuate at the AFL's discretion. This year, Richmond and Greater Western Sydney have each been awarded 17,000 tickets for club members. The Tigers have more than 103,000 members while the Giants have 30,109 members – meaning the combined memberships have about a one in four chance of securing a ticket.
The 100,000 tickets are divided by the following categories but each amount has to fall within the specified minimum and maximum. Here's the breakdown.
Richmond fans go wild at the 'G in 2017.Credit:Justin McManus
Giants and Tigers club members: 17,000 each
Most tickets are distributed by clubs to their members via a ballot. It's literally a case of the luck of the draw, although all clubs have a premium level of membership that guarantees a member a grand final ticket.
Richmond's premium membership costs about $2000 per season for an adult, for example, and must be bought on top of their standard membership.
The cheapest general admission membership at Richmond – for general admission access to all home, regular season games – costs $215 for an adult. It does not grant access to a grand final ticket.
All Giants members (except for “Mini Giants” and “Toddler Giants” members) have a chance to buy grand final tickets. There are three “priority access” categories, and to be “priority one” (the best chance of getting a seat) the cheapest membership price was $427.
Giants members did not exhaust their allocation of tickets so Richmond gold members had the chance on Tuesday to snap up the seats their NSW rivals did not buy.
AFL corporate boxes, packages and suites: 5000 to 30,000
These are the corporate seats that really get the diehards angry. They’re a big money-spinner for the AFL.
There are about a dozen groupswho can create hospitality packages that include grand final tickets. Packages can include chauffeur transfers to the MCG, a pre-game meal at a swish restaurant, behind-the-scenes access on game day and access to a private bar at the ground.
The Swans v West Coast reflected in the MCC members' windows in 2005.Credit:Sebastian Costanzo
MCC members reserve: 16,000 to 26,000
There's about a 17-year wait to become a member of the Melbourne Cricket Club. You have to pay $110 up front to be on that waiting list. After 17 years, you become a restricted member. Then you have to wait almost another 15 years to become a full member. There were 63,400 full MCC members as of August 31, 2018. All full members are eligible for entry to the grand final on a first-come-first-served basis.
The MCC allocates about 13,000 grand final reserved seat tickets ($30 each) for a ballot, with another 10,000 set aside for walk-ups on the day (no extra cost). A full MCC membership costs about $700 per year.
Members have to be sure they dress to the code. Breaching it means you’re not allowed into the venue – MCC staff check attire at the gates. Men must wear a collar. Crew-neck shirts are out. Skivvies are acceptable. Ripped jeans – including “designer” rips – singlets and overalls are no-nos. This also applies to women: they don’t have to wear a collar but are not permitted entry if they are displaying a “bare midriff”. Thongs or gumboots? Forget it.
Badlam: GWS players sing the club song after beating Collingwood to qualify for their first grand final.Credit:AAP
AFL members: 13,000 to 23,000
This is a tiered membership package offered by the AFL. AFL gold members are guaranteed the chance to buy grand final tickets. Precedence is given to AFL gold members who support the competing clubs. If there are tickets left over, AFL silver and bronze members get access to tickets – but this is unlikely. A grand final ticket for an adult gold AFL member will cost more than $180 on top of their annual membership fee of $600.
Non-competing AFL clubs: 0 to 7000
The AFL gives the 16 AFL clubs that are not in the grand final access to these tickets for club staff, players, sponsors and guests.
Medallion Club members: 3000 to 5000
The Medallion Club is a sport and hospitality membership offered by the AFL, originally created for Marvel Stadium (previously Etihad Stadium). Memberships range from about $5850 to $9200 per year. Members get access to every event at Marvel Stadium and the MCG on top of hospitality benefits at those venues. One of the perks is a guaranteed chance to buy grand final ticket.
Competing clubs: 0 to 5000
These tickets are given to the competing clubs for sponsors, families, supporters (such as the cheer squads) and staff.
Footscray fans queue to buy grand final tickets outside Turner's Sports Store in 1961.Credit:Fairfax
Will people camp out for tickets?
Fans will brave the elements to grab a seat at the game – but not as many as those who camped out for preliminary final tickets. That’s because most grand final tickets are handed out via a ballot. The only people you might see camping out are those wishing to take advantage of the MCC’s walk-up ticket allocation. They’ll start lining up the night before the game, or some time earlier, outside of gate two at Jolimont.
Camping out for tickets used to happen a lot more regularly. Lining up at grounds or outlets or applying for tickets via mail used to be how fans secured their seats to finals and grand final.
Can tickets be re-sold?
In Victoria, it is illegal to re-sell grand final tickets for more than 10% of their original price. Police can fine individuals and companies found to be breaching this rule. This includes those who do so online or in person.
There have long been problems with scalping grand final tickets. A 1965 article in The Age talks about how stopping finals tickets being sold at the MCG was designed to quell “the scourge of the scalper”.
John Farnham at the 1979 grand final.Credit:Fairfax
Added bonus: entertainment with the ticket
By entertainment we don’t just mean the game. We mean pop star pre-game performances at grand finals. The AFL’s choice never fails to cause plenty of debate.
Meatloaf’s effort in 2011 was roundly criticised, as was Angry Anderson in 1991. Chris Isaak wasn’t bad in 2015, nor was Sir Tom Jones in 2014. Acts have been mostly Australian, though, with highlights including Peter Allen in 1980, John Farnham in 1979 and 1989, the Seekers in 1994 and Powderfinger in 2008.
This year Paul Kelly will be supported by Dean Lewis and Tones and I. John Williamson will play Waltzing Matilda while Mike Brady will sing Up There Cazaly. Conrad Sewell will sing the national anthem.
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