Etihad Stadium management predicts a Fremantle-Geelong qualifying final would attract more than 40,000 spectators, a view which aids the Dockers' fight to avoid a finals trip to the Cats' Simonds Stadium fortress.
If results go as expected today, the third-placed Dockers will travel to Victoria to play Geelong (second) in a qualifying final next Saturday.
But with all four finals expected to be hosted by Victorian teams, AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said Fre- mantle would likely be forced to play at the Cats' newly redeveloped 33,500-capacity home ground. The other three games would be at the MCG.
Despite Geelong and Fremantle drawing crowds of more than 40,000 at their previous two finals, the AFL predicts no more than 34,000 would attend if the two sides meet in Victoria next week, making it more economically attractive to play at Simonds Stadium.
The venue has never hosted a final and the last time the Cats played a final away from the MCG was in 2005 at the SCG.
A spokesman for Etihad Stadium said a crowd in the 40,000-49,000 range was expected if the game was played there.
Dockers president Steve Harris said the club was also anticipating a crowd of more than 40,000.
He said the AFL indicated it would make a final decision on the venue this afternoon, giving the Dockers a tight window to argue their case.
"I've spoken to (AFL chairman) Mike Fitzpatrick, (Dockers chief executive) Steve Rosich has spoken to Andrew Demetriou and … we've been assured a decision hasn't been made," he said.
"I think what they're doing, and it's always a matter of opinion, they're making a commercial decision on crowd numbers that isn't right.
"Our view is we've got a better gauge on the amount of people that are going to turn up and I think history shows that.
"What you know about the AFL is they tend to make sound comm- ercial decisions and I would hope they're not going to turn away, if you look at the numbers, some- where between $500,000 and $1 million in revenue from people who love their football and want to see two great teams play."
Talkback radio lit up in WA after Demetriou told the ABC the AFL would fixture the game at Simonds Stadium, where the Cats have won 42 of their past 43 games, only if the game involved Fremantle. If it was a Geelong-Sydney final, it would have been at Etihad Stadium or the MCG.
"I haven't heard anyone object to this game being played at Simonds Stadium other than Fremantle and they've got a vested interest in the game," he said."But at the end of the day, it's an AFL decision."