AFL MEMBERS ASSOCIATION
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AFL MEMBERS ASSOCIATION
MEETING WITH AFL MEMBERSHIP MANAGER DARREN BIRCH.
Last week your Committee had another productive meeting on your behalf with the AFL. Many thanks to those Members who submitted questions and comments for discussion. We attempted to cover as many subjects as possible and, to their credit, AFL Membership Manager Darren Birch and Membership Relationship Co-ordinator Christina Fleming, stayed on until we'd finished our agenda.
A summary of the points covered follows:-
Booking fees for the finals at $10 instead of $4.95 during the rest of the year was a major complaint by AFLMA members. The AFL insists that this increased fee is due to the MCC and Ticketmaster with the AFL only receiving a small part of this fee.
The AFL receives no payments from the standard booking fees of $4.95 during the home & away games.
Contracts are signed between venues and Ticketmaster. The booking fees were renegotiated for 2006 and resulted in the removal of transaction fees on the Internet and automated phone systems. The fees will continue to remain in place and the AFL will endeavour to ensure they remain affordable to the majority of members.
The question of the $80 booking fee for the Grand Final was raised by a number of members with the complaint that the annual fee originally included free entry to the Grand Final. A few years ago the AFL reduced the annual membership fee and placed a seat fee on the Grand Final ticket (much less than the normal price of a Grand Final ticket) This means that if you don't want to go to the Grand Final you don't feel obligated to go because you had not paid for it at the start of the season. The result is that you get members that really want to go queuing up and paying the $80. It also means that those members that don't go to the Grand Final aren't forced to pay.
Silver Members were able to book a Grand Final ticket after full members were given the opportunity. The cost as a Silver Member was $168 therefore the difference on the GF portion between Full & Silver is $88.00.
The issue of having a membership for just the home and away series and paying for the finals you want to attend was raised by some members. This will not be available but members are able to revert to Silver membership if they wish at renewal time. You are able to return to full membership again the following year or future years by contacting the AFL.
The number of seats in the AFL Reserve allocated to the Medallion Club and AFL guests for the Grand Final was not an issue at the Grand Final as the Reserve was NOT sold out again for the third consecutive year.
The location of the Medallion Club members within the AFL reserve on Grand Final day were on ground (M section), level 3 (P section) and level 4 (Q section). No Medallion Club members were sitting on level 2 (N section). There were also Medallion club members located in the general public areas of the ground.
The number of seats available in the AFL reserve for AFL members on Grand Final day was around 17,000. There are around 29,000 full members.
A reduction in fees due to only 2 finals being played in Melbourne was not offered because membership fees are set at the beginning of the year and take into account that there can be between 2 and 8 finals played in Melbourne in the first three weeks of the finals.
Members are also made aware at the time of renewal that the number of finals cannot be guaranteed in Melbourne during Weeks 1-3 of the finals.
The cost of the Grand Final luncheon package was $295-00 and included a Level 2 seat, 2 course meal, drinks package and entertainment. In comparison to many in ground dining facilities this was still the cheapest Grand Final package available. The cheaper Preliminary Final package did not include all of the contents of the Grand Final package and the difference in between the Preliminary and Grand Final ticket prices.
The perceived limited benefits for Country Members are not as dramatic as indicated. There are Metropolitan Members who have to travel further or longer than some Country Members.
It is not possible to guarantee admission to all games, particularly with walk-ups. However, according to AFL Membership records no member was unable to gain entry to games throughout 2006. (Except possibly for ANZAC day)
The issue of recognition for Long Term Members including Foundation Members is being addressed. AFL membership has conducted a number of workshops and will be conducting additional surveys on this issue. The AFL membership Department recognises the importance of rewarding these members and providing additional benefits in the future.
Improved social facilities at the MCG is on the agenda however, as renovation of the Great Southern Stand at the MCG is some years off, this may take time.
The AFLMA raised the prospect of moving the AFL Reserve to the new Northern Stand. The AFL states that this will not happen as the new stand will then be almost all taken up by MCC & AFL members, with just a few seats available for the general public. Also, MCG home clubs have contracts in the New Stand for their reserved seating and corporate dining.
The protocol of staging the Grand Final entertainment and presentation in front of the AFL Reserve was changed because AFL Official Guests, including the Governor-General and the Prime Minister, were located on the opposite side of the ground. The National Anthem was facing the dignitaries located in the Olympic Room which is located to the Punt Road side of the MCC Reserve. The pre-game entertainment was situated centrally for all to see. The after game presentation location was a compromise between the MCC & AFL where the stage was placed midway between both.
There were no walk-up opportunities at the Bulldogs V Collingwood Elimination Final because it was sold out, except for standing room. AFL Members could still scan in at no cost and access the Standing Room area for both Elimination Finals.
The current frequency of being able to reserve seats will remain, as only once or twice in a Season creates a lot of inconvenience or is impractical for many Members. AFL membership is investigating the possibility of a full season purchase opportunity as an online option only on specific pre season dates.
Any attempt to restrict or speed up the entry and exit to coaches' boxes at the Telstra Dome would be untenable as there are a range of assistants, stats. people etc. who need to accompany the coach to and from the ground.
The problem with booking fees and other issues for Essendon home games at Telstra Dome is the contract Essendon were able to sign with the venue. Unfortunately for the AFL this is a contract between Essendon and Telstra Dome, not the AFL.
In order to protect Members, there will NOT be any membership transfer rights offered for family Members.
Members can suspend, or put on hold, their memberships by using the Absentee Membership option for a payment of $90-00 per year. If they do so, they will retain their membership category.
All Members should note that their membership entitles them to enter and sit in any available seating within the MCG except the MCC Reserve. Members can enter through any gate when the game is a home game of the Club of Support. Any other game the Member must enter through the AFL Reserve and cross over. This facility applies to nearly ALL matches at the MCG except Finals.
Earlier gate opening times for walk-up Members are not being considered as it is an MCC staffing matter and there is a cost for having the attendants opening the gates earlier. The comparison with corporate guests is erroneous because they are going to a dining room and extra attendants are not required.
The AFL advises the MCC on which bays are to be annotated walk-ups and is reviewed on an annual basis. Accordingly the AFL and the MCC want reserved seating in blocks together so that they are able to manage these areas effectively.
The subject of improved food and bar facilities on the upper levels of the MCG is being addressed, as is the non-opening of these facilities during lower attended games.
Some members raised complaints about the location of Auskick participants. Auskick requires close access for players and their parents to both the ground and change rooms. Auskick is located at the front of M27. The relocation of Auskick will be reviewed for 2007 and may be moved to the public area of the ground in M28-29.
Problems with booking seats for the 2 Elimination Finals occurred because Ticketmaster had an unforeseen major “patch” failure that affected the entire ticketing system.
Internet bookings for the Grand Final are not available because the AFL is not confident with security of Internet bookings. Identifying why purchases fail is difficult and until the internet system is better equipped to handle load and timeout issues it is considered that the telephone and queuing options are much more reliable and fairer to all members.
The difficulties of booking seats in Perth for West Coast Eagles Club Support Members have been noted by the AFL who will look into it.
Access to Interstate venues for AFL Members is a problem due to high local Club memberships, however AFL Members should check with the AFL Membership office if they intend traveling Interstate. The AFL would like the membership to be available at all venues whether that be Geelong or Subiaco.
Following the results of the Members Census and feedback from members the MCG “Big 6 Game” reserved seat option will not be offered next year. A more attractive concept constructed around specific Club matches is being considered. It should be noted that there was only 1 fully ticketed game this year at the MCG – Anzac Day.
The matter of Guest Passes was extensively discussed. The AFLMA put the view that by reducing the number of passes available to Members from 4 to 2 for large attended games; it would reduce the possibility of prime seats being taken by guests. The option of allowing Members that do not require Guest Passes to book seats in advance of those who do, was rejected on the grounds of being unfair to those members who want to take guests. Stay tuned for further developments.
Due to the limited members area available at Telstra Dome, guest passes in the AFL reserve were not available during 2006 for any of the Collingwood, Essendon, and St Kilda games. The size of the reserve is a matter that the AFLMA is pursuing with the AFL. Again, they are constrained by Telstra Dome management who want big money to increase the reserve size.
I hope that any points you raised are covered in the above. As you can see, we had a lengthy and detailed meeting. We are scheduled to have the next AFL / AFLMA
Pow-Wow early in 2007, so feel free to send your comments or questions to:-
at any time.
Finally, by separate email accompanying this Special Newsletter, you will receive details of the AFLMA AGM. This will be held on Monday 13 November at 7-30pm at the Tower Hotel in Hawthorn East. Please try and attend. The strength of your Association relies on a healthy membership plus your active support for what we are continually striving to achieve on your behalf. So get along and have your say.
Best Wishes on behalf of all your Committee.