Gather Round to stay in SA until 2026, injects $86m into state economy

Gather Round to stay in SA until 2026, injects $86m into state economy

Adelaide Crows fans attend the first-ever Gather Round game on April 13, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

The AFL has announced the Gather Round will be staying in South Australia until 2026, with the sold-out four-day bonanza estimated to have injected more than $85 million into the state’s economy.

According to the AFL, more than 220,000 fans attended fixtures at Adelaide Oval, Norwood Oval and Mount Barker, with around 27 per cent of footy fans buying tickets from interstate.

The deal comes a few days after Adelaide Airport announced more than 115,000 passengers passed through to experience the AFL festival in SA. According to the Adelaide Economic Development Agency (AECA), the influx of activity is expected to deliver an $85.8 million economic windfall for the state’s economy.

While Adelaide Oval will remain the central venue, both the AFL and SA government intend to take regional matches next year to either the Barossa Valley or McLaren Vale.

"South Australia really turned it on. Gather Round and all the activity across the state, the nine matches, the footy festival and the community football engagement has been some of the best days and events the AFL has ever delivered," AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said.

"It has been a success because everyone in football got behind the idea, clubs, players, corporate partners and most importantly our fans, to deliver an extraordinary few days.

"While the concept has real momentum, and we plan on taking it to other states around the country, we also feel in order for it to be as successful in the other states we need to continue to build out the concept in South Australia.”

"The reality is we only had a few months to pull this together, and we hope by locking it in now we are giving everyone a longer runway to put together a bigger and even better event, and our fans certainty around booking travel and accommodation.”

The final crowd attendance for Richmond v Sydney in Gather Round
The final crowd attendance for Richmond v Sydney in Gather Round, 2023

 

As part of the three-year term, both the AFL and SA Government have committed to establishing a community football legacy fund intended to benefit local clubs beyond the festival period.

The AFL will lock in the fixture dates of the round in the coming weeks to give fans enough lead time to book travel and accommodation.

“The inaugural Gather Round has been a stunning success, in no small part thanks to the willingness of South Australians, and our interstate visitors, to show up,” SA Premier Peter Malinauskas said.

"We know that this has delivered huge benefits for our state, and that is why I’m so pleased to see it return for the next three years.

"With more time to plan, we know we can make Gather Round even bigger and better than what it has already become.”

The news comes after Adelaide experienced a bumper ‘Mad March’ this year, with the state’s festival of comedy, arts, music and more Adelaide Fringe enjoying record-breaking numbers of ticket sales.

Organisers reported in March that 1 million tickets were sold to events during the four-week festival - the first ever festival in Australia to do so.

New data released by Tourism Research Australia earlier this month revealed how South Australia’s tourism sector exceeded all expectations in 2022, generating a record $8.3 billion for the state’s economy.

This figure surpassed the pre-COVID high of $8.1 billion and was 12 months ahead of what was forecast by a COVID tourism impact model created by the South Australian Tourism Commission (SATC).

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