Last Saturday, at the Sydney Showground Stadium, GWS defeated Hawthorn by 13 points to keep its finals hopes alive.
While the win was significant, it wasn’t the most impactful moment of the night.
The fact that a touch more than 9000 fans turned out to watch the Giants take on one of the biggest clubs in the league, albeit struggling for form this season, should be cause for concern.
GWS has battled to get more than 10,000 to its home games in Sydney this season. This is a paltry figure when compared to the Swans or other clubs in AFL’s heartland.
When the Giants played Adelaide in Sydney, the crowd figure ticked just over 8000. Against Fremantle, they drew 8633. Against Richmond 9723 watched on.
Among the biggest crowds for GWS home games this season have been at Manuka Oval with slightly more than 10,000 turning out for the match against the Western Bulldogs, and 10,500 fans for the game against the Brisbane Lions.
Their final home game in Canberra next weekend sees the Giants taking on the Gold Coast Suns at Manuka.
If GWS gets a bigger crowd at Manuka for a game against the Suns than it did against Hawthorn in Sydney, surely this should act as a trigger for the AFL to consider Canberra as the Giants home base.
Already considerable work has been done by the Giants to develop their supporter base in Canberra, including the drafting of locally produced players.
And the financial investment from the ACT Government has not been insignificant.
By the time the current 10-year agreement finishes in 2032, the ACT Government would have invested $51.5 million in GWS.
This includes $23 million for the first 10-year deal and now $28.5 million for the second 10-year period.
The new contract involves playing AFLW games in Canberra and three AFL premiership clashes, with the potential for a men’s pre-season match.
If this deal had been on offer when Fitzroy courted the ACT back in the mid-90s, there’s a fair chance the Lions might have ended up in Canberra rather than Queensland.
Part of the deal between the Giants and the ACT Government not only sees AFL men’s and women’s games, but also the CBR logo on players’ jumpers, the promotion of Canberra as a tourism venue, and the development of the code in the ACT.
The GWS becoming a truly Canberra team appears on the surface to be a logical step.