Northern Territory steps up AFL effort with Darwin stadium proposal

The organisation behind efforts to bring an Australian Football League (AFL) expansion franchise to the Northern Territory has detailed plans for a new 25,000-seat stadium in the city of Darwin.

The plans, which have been reported by Australian broadcaster Seven, would locate the A$300m (£169.6m/€199.3m/$214m) facility in Darwin’s CBD and closer to the city centre than the current TIO Stadium.

Renderings that have been released this week detail two design options, one with a roof that covers the majority of the stadium and another with a more open structure. The NT AFL Team Taskforce is said to have engaged professional services firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers to conduct a business case study on the viability of an AFL team in the region.

A report commissioned by AFLNT last year outlined that a team would run at a yearly loss of A$15m, on an annual operating cost of A$45m, according to Fox Sports.

The NT AFL Team Taskforce, co-chaired by NT Minister for Sport Kate Worden and AFLNT chair Sean Bowden, is said to be taking a long-term view at its franchise bid proposal with no deadline in place. However, the ability to also play home matches in Alice Springs is said to be critical for the bid.

Alice Springs is located in the Northern Territory’s ‘Red Centre’, the red desert heart of Australia. The Red Centre’s climate would mean Alice Springs matches would need to be held early in an AFL season, when Darwin is in the midst of its wet season.

With the AFL currently consisting of 18 teams, the NT AFL Team Taskforce is targeting the League’s 20th franchise. The AFL Commission is due to vote in August on whether Tasmania will be granted the 19th licence.

The Tasmanian Government revealed plans in March for a new 27,000-seat stadium, which will be built if the state secures a license for an AFL team. The stadium would cost A$750m and will form a key part of a 10-year strategic plan that Stadiums Tasmania will be tasked to develop. The stadium would be built in Hobart at the Regatta Point site.

Image: Mark Pegrum/CC BY-SA 2.0/Edited for size