The Riverina League has re-affirmed its commitment to Narrandera Sportsground in the wake of Saturday's disappointing grand final crowd.
The MTC has confirmed its annual event drew a record crowd of more than 7000 patrons this year (up on last year's 6600) ensuring a record gate for its event. It estimates 3500 of its attendees travelled for the event.
At Narrandera, the Riverina League grand final gate of $22,534 was $14,000 lower than the Group Nine and Farrer League grand finals, which both enjoyed record gates in fine conditions in Wagga a week earlier.
The Farrer League had just three clubs contesting the three football deciders. Group Nine had the same two clubs, Gundagai and Young, in its three lower grade deciders.
Riverina League president Chris Flanigan said the weather was a major contributor.
"It is, you wake up in the morning and you've got a choice haven't you? You can come across, or you look out the window and it's blowing 50km/h and dark. Unfortunately, some people stay at home. You'd love to see them come and support the footy but that's where we're at," Flanigan said.
The worst of the weather was early in the day, and conditions in Narrandera improved sooner than they did in Wagga.
But it begs the question whether holding the game an hour's drive from the main population centre makes it more prone to lower crowds - and a hit to the bottom line - if conditions aren't perfect.
Flanigan reiterated the league's fondness for grand final day at the league's spiritual home, and geographical heart.
"We're happy here. We've always said Narrandera Sportsground is the premier venue when you're coming to watch finals footy. I've grown up in the RFL and it's all I've ever known. It's always been Narrandera, and the condition they deliver it in and present it (is perfect)," Flanigan said.
"And geographically it makes sense."
In the main event, Griffith were beaten by Wagga Tigers which isn't traditionally a strong-drawing club. But Tigers' last grand final win in 2016 was in horrendous weather at Robertson Oval (against a Leeton-Whitton side desperate to end a premiership drought). It attracted a gate of $26,672 despite the rain.
That was comparable to both Group Nine and Farrer (who also had rain-affected grand finals in 2016). While the latter two copped hits of $5500-$7000 at the gate, compared to the previous year, the Tigers-Crows crowd was a slight improvement for the Riverina League.
GRAND FINAL GATES:
2019: RFNL $22,534. Farrer $36,083. Grp 9 $36,880.
2018: RFNL $28,091. Farrer $30,170. Grp 9 $25,000
2017: RFNL $30,287. Farrer $29,907. Grp 9 $32,347
2016: RFNL $26,672. Farrer $25,742. Grp 9 $27,000
2015: RFNL $26,280. Farrer $32,612. Grp 9 $32,700
2014: RFNL $25,664. Farrer $31,900. Grp 9 $31,150