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League boss plots big send-off for Big Bash


Big Bash chief Anthony Everard is hoping this week shows just how big the league has become in its breakthrough season.

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The total attendance figure for the fifth BBL season is likely to pass one million this week, when the competition wraps up with two semi-finals and a final.

Crowds have been up around the country this season – seven of the eight BBL sides set new records.

That includes when 80,883 fans poured into the MCG for the Melbourne derby.

“We always thought if we were going to get a really huge crowd that was probably going to be it. Two Melbourne clubs on a Saturday night,” Everard said.

There are some similarities when it comes to the Melbourne Stars’ crunch clash with Perth at the MCG.

Notably it is on Friday night, another incredibly popular timeslot among Melbourne’s sports-mad public.

Jostling for the city’s attention alongside the Australian Open will be a major test of the league’s development.

It is an exam Everard is confident the BBL will pass.

“There’s no doubt the environment has changed. The Australian Open is hugely popular,” he said.

“But we take a lot of confidence out of the momentum we’ve built over the last few weeks.

“A Friday night game on the Australia Day long weekend is going to be very appealing for a lot of families.

“Certainly all the ingredients are there for what should be another massive night.

“The fans will still turn out … we’re very confident the Stars have got fantastic local support. They had really, really good crowds throughout the tournament.”

How good?

The Stars’ average attendance at the MCG in 2015/16 has been 40,986.

Brisbane’s average home crowd in the 2015 NRL regular season was 38,626 – no other club recorded a figure higher than 20,000.

Hawthorn’s average home crowd during the AFL premiership season failed to hit 40,000 in 2013, 2014 or 2015.

They were all premiership years for the Hawks, although they play home fixtures at Launceston and Etihad Stadium in addition to the MCG.

The Strikers, who host the other semi on Thursday night, have averaged a crowd of 42,437 at Adelaide Oval this season.

Cheap tickets have played a large role in the BBL’s booming crowds, while scheduling the six-week tournament in school holidays has also been a key factor.

“This time of the year is a little bit different … it doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s a Thursday, Friday or Tuesday,” Everard said.

“We’ve had really strong crowds throughout the week.

“We worked pretty hard on the fixture this season. We had 32 regular-season games to schedule.

“We almost hand picked them. Night by night, market by market.”

Everard has taken just as much pride in the inaugural WBBL season, which has also grabbed record attendance figures and TV ratings.

“We’ve got a few more double-headers to come .. the success of the WBBL has been significant,” he said.


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