Tasmania closes on new AFL franchise

Featured image credit: Supplied by Philp Lighton Architects

Featured image credit: Supplied by Philp Lighton Architects

Tasmania’s government and the Australian Football League (AFL) have reached an in-principle agreement for the creation of a new league team in the state, with the AUS$750m funding of a new stadium the only remaining impediment.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan and Tasmanian premier Jeremy Rockliff announced the agreement on Friday in Hobart, describing it as a “great step forward” after years of discussions.

The Tasmanian government’s funding commitment includes $12m per year over 12 years, plus $60m towards a high-performance and administration complex. It is estimated that hosting an AFL team could be worth $120m a year to Tasmania’s economy.

According to the AFL’s website, the final piece of the puzzle is locking in funding for the construction of a new 23,000-capacity stadium at Macquarie Point on Hobart’s waterfront, which could carry a price tag of $750m. Reports claim the state’s Liberal government has promised to fund half of the stadium, with the remainder of the cash to be sought from the federal government, private sector involvement and equity raising.

“There is still some work to do and the key is the new stadium,” said Jeremy Rockliff, Tasmania’s premier, in a statement. “But with the substantial benefits this will deliver Tasmania, it’s a no brainer – I’m confident we will get there.

“The Tasmanian Government is committed to activating Macquarie Point as an arts, entertainment and sporting precinct with a boutique stadium – the home of the Tasmanian Devils – at its heart.

“The stadium will be transformative, and bring events to our state never before imagined or possible. It will deliver 950 FTE jobs a year and inject $85m into the economy, as well as providing a major infrastructure pipeline project with more than 4,000 jobs attached during construction.”

If the funding is confirmed, the creation of a 19th league franchise must also be agreed by the other clubs.

Plans to obtain an AFL franchise through a stadium complex at Macquarie Point were unveiled back in 2019. However, the Tasmanian authorities then switched focus to a site at Regatta Point.

In September 2022, the Tasmanian government confirmed that it had selected the nine-hectare Macquarie Point site, which is reported to be the AFL’s preferred site.

The stadium project is not universally popular, with Greens leader Cassy O’Connor saying in September: “News that they want to put a $750m stadium on this site is an insult to Tasmanians who can’t pay their rent or are living in a tent.”

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