Ovens and Murray Football-Netball League board to decide 2018 grand final venue on Wednesday night

The Norm Minns Oval is set to reclaim the Ovens and Murray Football-Netball League grand final this year.
The Norm Minns Oval is set to reclaim the Ovens and Murray Football-Netball League grand final this year.

ALBURY and Wangaratta councils have made their final pitches to the Ovens and Murray Football-Netball League in the lead-up to next week’s crucial board vote on the grand final venue.

O and M officials including chairman David Sinclair met with Albury Council on Thursday before meeting with Wangaratta Council on Friday to get the latest on their plans for a premiership decider at either the Albury Sportsground or Norm Minns Oval.

The league has played the grand final at Lavington Sportsground since the Norm Minns Oval last hosted the grand final in 1994.

It is planning to announce the host venue on Thursday following a re-scheduled board meeting the previous night.

Albury mayor Kevin Mack said the council’s support for a grand final played at the Albury Sportsground would be at the same levels as when Lavington Sportsground hosted the match.

“The O and M is a major stakeholder in Albury’s sports portfolio,” he said.

“We are keen to see it remain in Albury to enable us to showcase the city and maintain our status as one of the country’s greatest regional sporting hubs.

“In 2017 Albury hosted three finals matches at Albury Sportsground, Bunton Park and Lavington Sportsground. drawing attendance of almost 10,500 people.”

The Albury Sportsground playing surface is considered the best in the O and M.

The Albury Sportsground playing surface is considered the best in the O and M.

Wangaratta mayor Ken Clarke said his city was going all out in its grand final bid.

It has committed to re-surfacing the netball court before the grand final and will also erect temporary seating around the court.

Spectators will also be able to access the bike track to watch the football and Albury-based sponsors including the SS&A Club will be able to erect signage.

“We’re only going to get this opportunity once because when Lavington is back on track that is where it is going to be and will be forever and a day,” Cr Clarke said.

“We would hope if we were successful for this year we would be able to show we could do it and then it would be a lay down misere for next year.”

HOW THE TWO VENUES STACK UP

PLAYING SURFACE: Albury Sportsground is widely considered to be the best in the league and definitely has an edge over the Norm Minns Oval.

CHANGEROOM FACILITIES: Norm Minns Oval takes the points here.

The addition of a separate set of changerooms as part of an administration building is a big plus for Wangaratta.

The Albury Sportsground visitors rooms underneath the grandstand are among the smallest in the league and with the potential of three different competing clubs on grand final day using them does creates its own set of issues.

Using changerooms at the Albury Swim Centre has been mentioned as a solution.

NETBALL: Albury Sportsground has a great set-up for netball with elevated seating on one side, but other viewing areas around the court are limited due to its location.

Wangaratta will make some temporary measures to cater for the bigger crowd, but importantly has the room to do it.

PARKING: Parking arrangements for AFL pre-season matches at the Norm Minns Oval in recent years have been spot on and drama free for crowds around the 10,000 mark.

Parking is limited within 100 metres of the Albury Sportsground, but parking options do exist in the recently completed Kiewa Street carpark and other public parking options in central Albury are within walking distance of the ground.

THE VERDICT: Norm Minns Oval.

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