This is a unique AFL Grand Final week.
While the AFL's traditional home begins the process of slowly returning to normality, its makeshift residence up north has begun to ramp up for what may be the most unrepeatable Grand Final in the code's history.
Thrust into an unlikely courtship, the AFL and Queensland -- thanks to the state's low community transition rates throughout the COVID-19 pandemic -- have helped deliver a season despite so many obstacles and spotfires.
Now, with just the Grand Final left to play in the season, celebrations have commenced across a state which has been transformed into football's makeshift Mecca.
Tickets to the game sold out in just 20 minutes after they were made available for public sale with a capacity of 30,000 set to converge on the Gabba this Saturday night.
While not a traditional AFL state, the code's popularity in Queensland has skyrocketed in 2020 with more games played in the sunshine state than anywhere else in the country. Of course, the Brisbane Lions' continued presence toward the top of the ladder has played a significant role in doing so.
As a result, the code's presence in the state's capital city of Brisbane has arguably been the broadest it has been since the glory years of the Lions in the early 2000s.
And despite Brisbane not making the decider after losing to Geelong last weekend, the appeal of a Gabba Grand Final has not been lost. In some ways, the decision to host the game in Brisbane is gesture from the AFL to the Queensland Government and its people for their role in getting the 2020 season back on track. Queensland though, is a key strategic location for the AFL which has invested significant amounts over the past decade in hopes to improve their footprint in rugby league heartland.
"It does feel like we're closer than ever [to becoming Queensland's No. 1 sporting code] and the momentum is incredible," AFL chief executive Gil McLaughlin said at the launch of Grand Final week.
"I'm not saying we're the No.1 sport here in Queensland but it's certainly nice to be in the conversation.
"Right now, it feels like it's close to being Queensland's game."
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🦠 COVID curveballs
🧐 A top 20 phantom draft
📈 Risers and sliders
👀 Ranking the No. 1 picks since 2000
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With Australian football front and centre, community football across the state has continued to develop and rise in popularity, even despite the uncertainty of the pandemic. Across the entire state, Queensland boasted more community-level junior teams than ever before this year including in South East Queensland, which has now become the largest junior football competition in the country.
Ratings too are up. Across the country, viewership is pushing 20 percent yet in Queensland, that number has risen to around 35.
"We have incredible momentum here in Queensland," McLaughlin said.
"Clearly Queensland is going to have its own plan with investment and planning because at the moment, people can't get enough of the AFL up here."
Geelong coach Chris Scott echoed that sentiment in the hours following his side's breakthrough preliminary final win, suggesting the AFL's popularity boom in Queensland will benefit the game across the board.
"The national game is important to us as well. I think this is an awesome opportunity for everyone in the game," he said.
"Queensland footy is going to benefit from this year for years to come and I suspect New South Wales will be scratching and clawing to try and catch up."
Saturday's title bout between Richmond and Geelong is obviously the main attraction, but the decider is merely the crescendo to what is transforming into a celebration of both football and Queensland and the improbable alliance in 2020.
Well known locations across Brisbane have been transformed this week in what is being dubbed as the 'Footy Festival'. South Bank, Riverstage, Queens St Mall and the City Botanical Gardens have all been given a footy facelift ahead of the weekend to heighten interest. It may not be as grand or as prestigious as the same build-up that is part and parcel in Melbourne, but it's something and that something -- in Brisbane -- could mean everything.
Elsewhere across Queensland, live sites will be set up at AFL venues in Cairns, Townsville, Mackay and the Gold Coast where fans can register to watch the game on the big screen.
In all, the Grand Final and its surrounding initiatives are set to add AU$70m into the Queensland economy, according to Kate Jones MP, Minister for State Development, Tourism and Innovation.
The wide-reaching impacts of hosting the game in Brisbane are evident and perhaps radiate the most with football fans who, in a non-traditional football state, have often felt maligned in a city so devoted to other sporting codes.
Diehard Richmond fan and Brisbane local Kurt Zadnik attended both the 2017 and 2019 Grand Finals at the MCG and will be one of those fans cheering on from the grandstands this Saturday.
And having experienced first-hand the atmosphere of a Grand Final in Melbourne, Zadnik is anticipating a similar one at the Gabba as the appeal for the code reaches new heights.
"This year, there has certainly been more interest and a lot more people asking me about football this year," Zadnik told ESPN.
"With the Queensland teams not being so good in the NRL, it has meant a lot of people want to get on the Lions' bandwagon and there is a greater interest in the AFL."
Like many others, Zadnik said the positive ramifications from the game will be evident not just this weekend and, in the lead, up but for the many years that follow.
"If a lot of kids can get to the game, it'll really give them a memory that they'll cherish. It'll be something they can enjoy and use to then go play Auskick or local footy," he said.
"The promotion of the sport will definitely help drive junior participation for the generations to come."
A Brisbane Grand Final may not live up to the lofty expectations established by those down south, but there is now the opportunity to do truly something unique in the river city.
Football's footprint in Queensland continues to grow, but this week looms as the most important in a generation.