Magic Round's home is Brisbane - and that's where it should stay

It's Magic Round. Rugby league Christmas for the diehard fan.

For the fourth time in five years, thousands of fans will descend upon Australia's newest Olympic City for what has quickly become the highlight of the regular season (except, now that there's an odd number of teams, if you're a Knights fan).

When the idea of co-opting the jewel in the English Super League's crown for Australian audiences was first put forward, even that was met with opposition - as all brave ideas are when it comes to this sport.

While 2019's first run went well it was 2021 and 2022 where the concept really hit its stride. Both were brilliant festivals for the sport and with tickets already all-but gone for this weekend, the NRL edition is here to stay.

The event has been such a roaring success that the AFL felt compelled to make their own version of it (albeit across multiple venues and games running concurrently, which kind of defeats the point, but anyway) which was a big hit in Adelaide and is already facing its own calls of being moved to Sydney - which makes about as much sense as playing the NRL version in Melbourne.

Because, if there's one thing rugby league pundits and fans love even more than dismissing ideas before even giving them a chance, it's trying to change things for the sake of it, no matter how successful.

Take Magic Round to New Zealand. Spread it around the other major cities. Some, inexplicably, have even floated the idea of a regional area winning hosting rights.

All of these are terrible ideas.

There's a variety of reasons why each other destination is a bad idea,

Brisbane has the best rugby league stadium in the country, with an honourable mention to the new venues in Parramatta and Moore Park, with surrounding amenities that put it in a league of its own.

There's breweries directly south-west of the ground, plenty of bars and restaurants on Given Terrace to the north, and then of course, there's the smorgasbord of Caxton Street on the other side.

The idea of tens of thousands of fans descending upon a regional centre is a logistical nightmare and should be given no thought at all.

Melbourne's rugby league stadium is great, but not big enough, while Docklands is an awful venue for rectangular sport (not to mention having to try and wrestle that ground away from the AFL for an entire weekend).

Sydney already has the Grand Final, and while Allianz Stadium is fantastic, it's again slightly more off the beaten track than Suncorp - hosting the weekend in Homebush, with its whopping two bars outside, is a non-starter.

That leaves Eden Park - which did a wonderful job of hosting the Nines from 2014 to 2017, and is the only other credible suggestion if the competition were to ever move. But even then, crowds decreased rapidly in each iteration of that competition, with the 50,000-seater less than half-full on both days in 2017.

Calls for Magic Round to be rotated around are overwhelmingly likely to come from people who aren't punters on Caxton this weekend. Pretty much everyone who's actually attended has become enamoured with not just the event, but everything surrounding it - talk to people in Brisbane in the days leading up to Magic Round and they'll tell you there's already a buzz around the city.

Much like State of Origin back in the 1980s, there was criticism when Magic Round was thrown out as an idea. And much like the current state of the NRL, which has so far been outstanding in 2023, there'll always be people who want to fix something that isn't broken.

This weekend in early May has become a pilgrimage for the rugby league community - and some of the, dare I say, magic, of the entire operation comes from not just what's on the field, but what's surrounding it.

Hopefully you'll be there this weekend - and if not, start planning a trip to Brisbane in 2024, because that's where it'll be.