One of Australia’s premier wine regions will host a Gather Round game next year, with the AFL estimating more than a quarter of a million attendees across matches at the weekend. 

The state government and Barossa Council will each contribute $20 million to the Lyndoch Recreation Park redevelopment, with support from the Barossa District Football and Netball Club.

The upgrade — which the government said would bring the oval up to AFL standards — will include a new multipurpose building with a 300-seat event space, netball courts, athletic track and clubrooms.

Andrew Dillon says this year’s Gather Round was one of the “biggest and best” AFL events in the country.(ABC News: Rory McClaren)

Premier Peter Malinauskas said the Lyndoch game would be seen on television screens across the country.

“Where we are standing now will be brand new facilities where the broadcast will come from and they will have views of an absolutely spectacular vista, not just of vineyards, but also the Barossa Valley ranges in the background,” Mr Malinauskas said.

“The power of Gather Round extends far beyond the event itself. It’s also the capacity to project South Australia to the rest of the country when the eyes of the nation are on us.”

Meanwhile, more than 40 community football clubs across South Australia will get a share of $2 million in funding through the South Australian Football Facilities Fund from the AFL, SANFL and state government. 

Gather Round attendance up

AFL chief executive Andrew Dillon said this year’s Gather Round was one of the “biggest and best” AFL events in the country.

He said an estimated 265,000 people attended a game and the average attendance at each game had increased from last year. 

“There’s nothing better than walking through the streets of Adelaide and just seeing the supporters of all of our 18 clubs wearing their colours coming together to celebrate Australia’s game,” Mr Dillon said.

“We’ve got another two years locked in, and a facility and event in the Barossa next year will be a new and unbelievable experience and we also want to ensure that a legacy is left for local clubs.”

Peter Malinauskas says the Lyndoch game will be viewed across the country.(ABC News: Rory McClaren)

Barossa Council Mayor Bim Lange said that it was a “very exciting day” for the Barossa and the state. 

“Sport is all about a team and the team coming together and supporting one another and this has truly been a team effort,” Mr Lange said.

“We look forward to not only Gather Round, but we look forward to community events.

“We’re very proud to host festivals and all sorts of other cultural events and this facility will give us the opportunity to build on our brand.”

Rachel Feuerherdt from Sunrise Bakery and Cafe in Lyndoch told the ABC that the Gather Round game will bring more tourists to the area. 

Rachel Feuerherdt says the redevelopment will be good for tourism and local businesses.(ABC News)

“It will just bring so many more customers through and obviously with COVID everything has been a bit quiet lately and it’s starting to pick up again so I think it will be fantastic,” Ms Feuerherdt said.

“Given that Lyndoch is a smaller town compared to Angaston, Tanunda and Nuriootpa, I think it would be great for Gather Round to be here because it will promote our area.”

Schubert MP Ashton Hurn, who represents the Barossa in state parliament, said the announcement was great news for the region and follows the recent upgrade of facilities at Tanunda. 

“We are the jewel in the crown of tourism, food and wine in Australia, we’re close to the city, we love our sport and we’ve got great facilities,” Ms Hurn said. 

“Since the government has now opened the cheque book for Gather Round … I’d expect more money invested in priority areas and projects for our region like building the new Barossa Hospital, water security, safer roads and improved transport options.”

‘We’d definitely go’

Spectators who attended Sunday’s Gather Round game between Greater Western Sydney and the Gold Coast Suns at Mount Barker threw their support behind future games being held in the state’s Barossa Valley. 

“What a magnificent venue that’ll be up there, I’d love to also see one down in the Fleurieu say Victor Harbor, Encounter Bay or McLaren Vale,” one attendee said. 

Adelaide Crows supporter Adam Niederer, who attended four games at the Gather Round with his son, said he would be interested in visiting the Barossa Valley for a match next year. 

The AFL says 265,000 people attended games at this year’s Gather Round.(ABC News)

“We think that’s really exciting, we’d definitely go if we could get a ticket,” he said. 

Michaela Kelly said she believed games held in the Barossa would attract more interstate tourists. 

“It’d be nice and there’s a lot of wineries up there as well so, for everyone that comes here definitely go to Barossa, yeah I think it’d be great,” she said. 

The SA government said work on the redevelopment would start immediately.

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