Brownlow medal count at Colonial

MOVE OVER FOOTBALL: Hopefully the roof will be closed when Colonial Stadium hosts this year's Brownlow medal count on its playing surface. Unfortunately for footy fans, they're still not on the invitation list. Photo: GETTY IMAGES  
Saturday, June 22

FINALLY there's a gala event where guests can wear their footy boots with the tuxedo.

This year's Brownlow Medal count will be held on the playing surface at Colonial Stadium the Monday night before the Grand Final, the AFL announced yesterday.

But despite a ground capacity of more than 50,000, the closest football fans will get to their heroes is standing outside the stadium or watching the count on television.

AFL chief executive Wayne Jackson said hosting the Brownlow at Colonial would give the estimated 1500 guests an exciting experience.

But Jackson said the AFL was determined to retain the event's ``integrity'' and that supporters weren't part of the plans - at least for now.

``We've always had people in and around the venues that we've had (previously) without having them in there,'' he said.

``It's not contemplated that we'll have thousands of people on and around the fences or in the stands, certainly not this first year.

``The possibilities where this could go are quite exciting.

``But ... we want to make sure this first year goes exceptionally well and then all sorts of possibilities can come later, but it's not contemplated that we'll have thousands of footy fans at this year's event.''

Jackson said the AFL organised the Brownlow count on a year-by-year basis and that it was too early to announce Colonial as a permanent host.

But Colonial Stadium chief executive Ian Collins said he would like to see the event held at Docklands permanently.

``First we have to demonstrate that it is going to be effective and it's what everybody wants,'' he said.

``But we'll be working to make sure that this year's event is fantastic and then hopefully we'll stamp our own marker on it and ensure it continues on in other years.''

Collins said Colonial had previously hosted events with 3500 guests and that the stadium's surface area could easily accommodate a similar sized crowd.

``It's up to whatever you want to make it really,'' he said.

``But you've got to also keep it to one, a service level and two, intimacy, so the real concern is the bigger you go doesn't mean to say it's better.''

The Brownlow Medal was held for years at Melbourne's Southern Cross Hotel.

It was held at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney in 1999, but its most recent home has been at Melbourne's Crown Casino.

Jackson said the AFL, Colonial and Brownlow broadcaster Channel Ten were confident of giving guests and television viewers a new experience.

``We wouldn't be doing this unless we were very confident that we will give people an experience they will really, really enjoy,'' he said.