Hundreds of kegs and half a tonne of meat as final puts Optus Stadium to the test
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Hundreds of kegs and half a tonne of meat as final puts Optus Stadium to the test

Western Australia's plush new stadium will get the national attention it deserves when it hosts its first AFL final on Saturday night.

The $1.8 billion state-of-the-art venue has been well received by the WA public and industry stakeholders since the gates opened to much fanfare in January.

Uninitiated football fans across Australia will see what all the fuss is about when West Coast hosts a qualifying final against traditional league powerhouse Collingwood on Saturday evening, with the match broadcast live in prime time on Foxtel and the Seven Network.

Optus Stadium has shone for AFL fans in the west after opening earlier this year.

Optus Stadium has shone for AFL fans in the west after opening earlier this year.

Photo: Tourism WA

The historic final is likely to break the venue's current attendance record of 57,616 for the West Coast-Richmond AFL clash in round nine.

Both the WA-based AFL clubs and the league have benefited from this season's move from Subiaco Oval to the 60,000-seat stadium, which overlooks the city and Swan River foreshore.

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The Perth venue has recorded the best average home attendance of any AFL venue in its opening year. All up, 1,078,540 people attended 23 AFL matches at Optus Stadium in the regular season, an average crowd of 46,893.

After starting the season strongly and continuing to maintain a high position on the ladder throughout 2018, the Eagles benefited most from the extra capacity at Optus, with its home game attendance average of 53,250 second only to reigning premiers Richmond, who drew an average 61,175 fans to their MCG home games.

This year's attendances were up from 36,751 last season at Subiaco Oval.

Despite a mediocre year that yielded only six wins from 11 played at their new home, Fremantle was sixth for average AFL home attendances with 41,764, compared to 32,375 (12th) in 2017.

Both average home crowd attendances are records for the WA clubs, with Fremantle's highest crowd for the season coming in the round six derby, which drew 56,521 people, followed by its inaugural outing at Optus Stadium against Essendon in round two (49,021 fans).

The Eagles have recorded the second highest average AFL home attendance in 2018.

The Eagles have recorded the second highest average AFL home attendance in 2018.

Photo: AAP

Saturday night's historic spectacle will keep stadium staff on their toes, with tickets to the first AFL final at the venue sold out in quick fashion last week.

"We will have most of the spectators sitting in a new seat for the first time, so get there nice and early," a stadium spokesperson said.

The stadium has prepared ¼ tonne of chicken, ¼ tonne of beef fillets and two tonnes of vegetables for Saturday's final, with gates opening earlier than usual at 3pm.

Apart from issues with boundary line signage and the hardness of the turf, the multi-purpose, state-of-the-art arena has had a relatively smooth ride in its debut year, successfully hosting domestic and international cricket fixtures, world-class football friendlies and two AFL tenants.

Perth Stadium's versatility was evident early on, hosting pop powerhouse Ed Sheeran and an NRL double-header in March.

In July, English football giants Chelsea drew a crowd of 55,522 fans to a friendly with Perth Glory on a cold, wintry night.

Fremantle increased its average home attendance by 30 per cent in 2018 at Optus Stadium.

Fremantle increased its average home attendance by 30 per cent in 2018 at Optus Stadium.

Photo: AAP

Cricket also had its time in the sun, with 53, 781 fans attending the Australia v England ODI on January 28, the first big international sporting event the stadium hosted.

The AFL season will wrap up for the venue in the next fortnight but the work won't end for stadium staff, with chart-topping pop act Taylor Swift playing next month, before the drop-in wicket arrives for the summer of cricket, featuring Perth BBL matches and the first-ever Test match at the stadium featuring Australia and India from December 14-18.

Food facts for Saturday's AFL qualifying final:
- 1400 catering staff working (approx 2000 work shifts including prep days)
- 700 kegs of beer from WA brewer Gage Roads
- 8000 pies and sausage rolls from local producer Mrs Macs
- 12,000 hot chips from WA-owned New West Foods
- 5000 burgers and 4000 hot dogs (buns sourced from WA-owned The Mill Bakery)
- 5400 Corporate Hospitality Diners (premium seafood, beef and vegetables sourced from WA)

Biggest AFL crowds at Optus Stadium:
- 57,616 WCE v Richmond May 20
- 57,375 WCE v FD August 5
- 56,521 FD v WCE April 29
- 55,824 WCE v Melb Aug 19
- 54,535 WCE v Geel Apr 8