THE all-time crowd record at Mars Stadium is expected to be broken on August 25 with both the Western Bulldogs and the Adelaide Crows to feature in a likely winner-take-all elimination battle to determine who takes the last spot in the AFL finals.
As of Monday morning only 25 single seats remained available for the match, although general admission tickets for standing room could still be purchased.
After the Bulldogs's enormous 104-point win over Essendon on Saturday night, the previously unlikely scenario of the match playing out as a final round knock-out now looms as a distinct probability.
The stadium's highest attendance was recorded in 2017 when 10,087 watched the Bulldogs take on Port Adelaide. In May, 9039 people saw the Bulldogs defeat the Brisbane Lions.
Bulldogs chief executive Ameet Bains said the club had worked with the AFL to schedule a final round showpiece in Ballarat.
"We worked collaboratively with the AFL, both in the initial planning of the 2019 fixture, and in the few weeks leading up to the announcement of the Round 23 schedule" Mr Bains said.
"We are pleased to have secured the 1.10pm time slot."
The early start should ensure the darkness which plagued a twilight clash between the Bulldogs and Port Adelaide last year should not be replayed.
Meanwhile, the City of Ballarat is offering a `park and ride' service to and from the venue throughout the day.
"The free shuttle bus and park and ride services will return, with hundreds of parking spaces also available at the new Ballarat Sports Events Centre, C.E Brown Reserve and surrounding ovals," a spokesperson said.
"Additional on-street parking will be available for drivers in Howitt and Norman Streets, as well as Creswick Road (north of Norman Street). Drivers are encouraged to utilise the on-street parking on Doveton Street North, by the Ballarat Cemetery and Ballarat North Splash Park."
The `park and ride' service has moved to Doveton Street North, just around the corner from the Midlands Golf Club and will depart every 20 minutes from 12pm and from 3pm from the stadium.
A shuttle bus will depart Ballarat Railway Station to Mars Stadium on game day. The shuttle bus will meet patrons arriving on the 11.40am, 12.40pm and 1.40pm trains and return them from 3pm to the Ballarat Town Hall in Sturt Street.
There are a number of permutations for both clubs which could see the match act as an early elimination final and a lot of it falls on the fortune or misfortune of the Essendon Football Club.
This weekend, the Bulldogs face sixth placed Greater Western Sydney in Sydney while Adelaide plays host to fifth-placed Collingwood. Even if both sides lose, there is likely to be at least one position still available in the top eight heading into the final round.
This will occur if Essendon loses both its matches - or even if they win one - against either Fremantle or Collingwood given both the Bulldogs and Crows have a higher percentage. It can be expected that Port Adelaide will most likely defeat either North Melbourne or Fremantle over the coming weeks and with it's superior percentage it should guarantee it one of the last two positions available.
If both the Bulldogs and Crows lose this weekend, there is a chance that the final round clash will see the winner advance to the finals, should Essendon lose both its matches.
How a Ballarat elimination final could happen
- If the Bulldogs, Adelaide and Port Adelaide all win this week and Essendon lose, the Bulldogs and the Crows will sit eighth and ninth and be playing for the final position in the top eight in round 23.
- If the Bulldogs and Adelaide lose this week and Essendon wins only one match, both Bulldogs and Crows can still make the finals with a winner take all clash at Mars Stadium.
- If Adelaide and the Bulldogs lose this week and Essendon win, the Crows and Bulldogs would need to rely on North Melbourne defeating Port Adelaide to have a chance as neither could overtake Essendon.
- If Port Adelaide loses both its matches against North Melbourne and Fremantle and Essendon also loses both games, both the Bulldogs and the Crows could make finals,
- If Port Adelaide wins one or both its matches, only the winner of the Bulldogs and Crows match can play finals provided Essendon lose.
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