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Stadium plan revealed for Tasmania AFL franchise drive

Plans have been revealed for a Aus$500m (£266m/€307.5m/$342.1m) stadium complex in Hobart as part of an effort to bring leading sporting codes to the state of Tasmania.

The ‘Tas Park’ masterplan has been developed by architect, and Hobart Brewing Company co-owner, Don Gallagher. Centring on a 27,000-seat stadium, the complex at the largely vacant Macquarie Point waterfront site would also include a hotel, convention centre, restaurants and cafes.

Tas Park is designed to strengthen Tasmania’s bid for a stand-alone AFL Aussie rules state team, an A-League soccer club and an NRL rugby league team while providing the city with a future hub for public transport infrastructure and year-round hotel accommodation.

Gallagher told The Australian newspaper that his plan has received support from figures in AFL, political and invest­ment circles, adding that initial contact has been made with the state government. A stadium at the Macquarie Point site as been cited by Tasmania’s AFL Taskforce, led by Virgin Australia co-founder Brett Godfrey, as potentially key in landing an AFL franchise. It is also said to be supported by some cricket officials keen to replicate the success of Adelaide Oval.

Gallagher said his design would also address concerns over the development of a large walled, traditional stadium at the site. “Traditional stadiums are like a walled fortress, whereas this concept is very flowing — it buries the buildings and creates a park,” he said. “It’s landscape architecture more than built form. All vistas to the Cenotaph are kept.”

Gallagher stated the addition of a 181-room hotel and convention centre, inspired by the Hilton Garden Inn development at Emirates Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, England, would help fund much of the project, reducing the need for public expenditure. He added this part of the project has already garnered interest from investors keen to meet Hobart’s demand for tourist accommodation. “We’ve set up a list of firms and consultants that have all agreed to come on board,” he said.

Gallagher said he is keen to help secure an AFL team for Tasmania, adding that his vision would see Hobart ensure it won’t repeat the “mistakes” of Melbourne’s Docklands precinct. “Docklands stadium is a fortress, a traditional-style stadium removed from the landscape and shut off all the time,” he said. “Tassie deserves something unique and different. It would be a tragedy if this unique site was turned into a soulless place.”

A government spokeswoman told The Australian that the concept of a multi-code stadium “has merit” but it was still an “early stage concept”, while development at Macquarie Point would be driven by the existing masterplan.

However, Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, who has locked in Aus$50m to start developing the Macquarie Point site, has criticised the concept. “The State Government needs to stop stuffing around and get on with the job,” he said, according to broadcaster ABC.

“It needs to lock in the planning work done already and, if it is to include a new sporting facility, that should be what the city needs and that is a rectangular stadium for soccer.”

Images: Tas Park