Footy returns to GMHBA Stadium, fans could return soon
THE 2020 AFL season has resumed after a two-month shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic and footballs have been kicked in anger at GMHBA Stadium for the first time this year, albeit with no fans looking on.
Geelong hosted Hawthorn at their home ground for the first time in 14 years, but the game had no supporters for either side in the stands.
However, Kardinia Park Stadium Trust chief executive officer Gerard Griffin said his organisation was looking forward to welcoming back fans as soon as health regulations allowed.
This could be in the near future, following an announcement on Sunday by the national cabinet that stadiums capable of holding 40,000 people or less would soon be allowed to host 25 per cent of their capacity.
Mr Griffin said starting football at the stadium this year was the same as in 2019 except with a “COVID-19 overlay” that was “no more or less onerous than what everyone else has been asked to do”.
“We’re certainly looking forward to getting crowds back; it’s not the full football experience without crowds.”
He said the trust would be guided by the advice of Victoria’s Chief Health Officer (CHO) in regards to how the 25 per cent capacity limit would come into effect.
“We’re very much in the hands of the CHO in how the minutiae plays out.”
Artificial crowd noise was added to the TV broadcast of Friday’s game (which the Cats won by 61 points) and Mr Griffin – who was one of the few non-players or officials at the ground – said the experience of watching the game live was “unique”.
“You got to hear a lot of the noise you don’t normally hear because of the crowd, like the sound of the players celebrating their goals.”