UTAS Stadium revamp gains council backing

Launceston’s UTAS Stadium is in line for a major redevelopment after the Tasmanian city’s council endorsed a A$208m (£116.5m/€132.7m/$160.8m) Future Direction Plan for the venue.

The draft Future Direction Plan contains a number of proposals that would see the most significant expansion of Launceston’s sporting infrastructure since the 1960s by increasing the stadium’s seating capacity from around 19,500 to 27,500.

The project also outlines the construction of a high-performance sports centre, as well as the development of an adjoining 5,000-seat, multi-use indoor sports facility capable of hosting national-level sporting competitions and events.

The Future Direction Plan also includes a proposal to move to a Trust governance model, with the Council divesting ownership of the stadium to the new Trust. It was discussed and approved at a City of Launceston council meeting yesterday (Thursday), with Mayor Albert van Zetten stating the plan will now head to state government for their analysis and approval.

“The jobs that would be created during the construction stage alone would be immense, but it goes much further than that,” said Van Zetten, according to The Examiner newspaper. “Our initial economic impact studies show that a fully upgraded stadium and associated indoor sport and entertainment facility would inject an expected A$62m a year into our economy, in addition to the expected A$60m to A$70m direct economic contribution to Launceston and the broader Northern region.”

The Future Direction Plan is designed to address a shortfall in the quantity and quality of indoor sporting venues and associated infrastructure in Launceston, with A$109m earmarked for the stadium and A$99m for the new arena.

A 2019 report commissioned by the state government – AFL Licence Taskforce Business Plan 2019 – outlined that any permanent Tasmanian AFL Aussie rules team would require access to a high performance facility and an AFL standard stadium capable of hosting 27,500 patrons.

The Taskforce recommended the redevelopment of UTAS Stadium as the initial primary football venue in the state – but went on to state that the stadium would need to undertake upgrades to provide additional seating capacity.

UTAS Stadium currently hosts some AFL games for the Hawthorn Hawks, along with Big Bash League (BBL) cricket for the Hobart Hurricanes. In June 2020, it was named as a venue as Football Federation Australia (FFA) and New Zealand Football (NZF) edged out Colombia for the hosting rights to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Image: City of Launceston/PhilipLighton Architects