Western Australia’s new home of football has helped make the West Coast Eagles the biggest earner in the AFL, while also providing a solid boost to the Fremantle Dockers’ revenue.
The annual reports of both Western Australian AFL sides showed the increased capacity of Optus Stadium as compared with Subiaco Oval had been a boon to their respective finances, with increases across the board in profit, revenue, membership and attendance.
West Coast’s revenue rose 28 per cent to $82.2 million, driving a record profit of $7.6 million in 2018 and just shading Collingwood’s yearly revenue of $82.07 million.
The next biggest earner was Richmond, which generated $79.7 million in 2018, according to its annual report.
However, while the profit result was a record for West Coast, the Western Bulldogs were the league’s most profitable team in 2018, turning an $18.1 million profit on revenue of $51.5 million.
The Bulldogs’ profit included a $15.8 million boost from redevelopment activities at Melbourne’s Whitten Oval, with its football-related profit coming in at $2.3 million.
St Kilda was the only other club to record a bigger profit than West Coast, at $10.4 million on revenue of $53.8 million.
Attendance at West Coast’s 14 home games in 2018, including finals, totaled 804,964, at an average of 57,497 per game.
West Coast Eagles chairman Russell Gibbs attributed the club’s strong financial performance to its 2018 premiership victory, its increased attendance and a strict spending regime, but cautioned that it may not be repeated in future years.
“Given the increased operational costs associated with the company’s move to new facilities in 2019, costs incurred fielding our WAFL and AFLW teams and the reduction in our investment portfolios, we expect that our surpluses in future years will materially reduce,” Mr Gibbs said in the annual report.
“Revenue is also sensitive to on-field performance.”
Optus Stadium also drove a 15 per cent revenue boost for Fremantle, with its earnings rising to $58.4 million, pushing the club back into profitability.
Net profit came in at $326,776 for the Dockers, a welcome rebound from its loss of $878,472 in the previous year, but ranked just 15th in the AFL.
Of the clubs behind Freo, Collingwood’s mammoth revenue produced a profit of just $112,052, while Greater Western Sydney recorded a $1.9 million loss, and Port Adelaide was $987,321 in the red.
Fremantle’s average attendance rose to 41,764 from 32,375, with 459,403 people attending a Dockers home game in 2018.
Outside of the AFL, the state government’s $1.6 billion investment in Optus Stadium has also paid dividends for grassroots footy, with $4.9 million in royalties paid by both WA clubs to the Western Australian Football Commission.
West Coast’s royalty payment rose to $3.9 million, while Fremantle contributed $1.06 million to the footy commission’s coffers.