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Design & Development

Tasmania presents business case for AFL stadium

Featured image credit: Jeremy Rockliff

The Tasmania Government has set out its case for A$240m (£133.1m/€151.4m/$160.6m) in federal government funding for a new stadium project that is designed to deliver an Australian Football League (AFL) team to Hobart.

The strategic business case for Tasmania’s new arts, entertainment and sports precinct has been delivered to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, with the price tag for the stadium having reduced from what has previously been outlined.

Tasmania’s Government and the AFL last month reached an in-principle agreement for the creation of a new team in the state, with the A$750m funding of a new stadium the only remaining impediment. At the time, AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan and Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff described the agreement as a “great step forward” after years of discussions.

The final business case now presented to the federal government states the roofed stadium at Macquarie Point in Hobart will cost A$715m. The requirement for federal funding has dropped from around half the total cost to A$240m.

The Tasmanian Government has committed A$375m, the vast majority in 2026 to 2028, but is seeking that the Commonwealth provide A$50m in 2026-27, A$175m in 2027-28 and A$15m in 2028-29. With the AFL contributing a further A$15m, the state claims the remaining A$85m will be generated through borrowings against land sale, or lease for commercial uses.

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, 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 business case also provides more details on the vision for the roofed stadium, using the planned ‘Te Kaha’ stadium in Christchurch, New Zealand, as an inspiration. A 23,000-capacity ‘boutique’ stadium is envisioned, including corporate and events spaces, plus the potential for 1,500-person hotel accommodation.

Projections are for the planning phase to be completed by late 2024, a contractor appointed in early 2025 and construction complete by mid-2028. However, the project has failed to gain universal backing locally, with both the state Labor opposition and the Greens being vocal opponents.

In the forward to the business case, Rockliff said: “We have a once in a generational opportunity to deliver a transformational infrastructure project that will unlock economic activity and invigorate a sense of community and pride, delivering flow on benefits right across Tasmania.

“Macquarie Point as an arts, entertainment and sporting precinct, featuring a roofed stadium would become a global destination for events based on location and experience. It will enable Tasmania to compete for events, concerts, conferences, exhibitions and sporting fixtures, whose organisers currently don’t consider Tasmania as an option, due to the lack of world class venue facilities and capacity constraints.

“All of these will bring jobs, economic activity and visitors to Tasmania and allow us to build the image of our state as a clean, sustainable destination that is leading the way in Australia.”

He added: “This is an infrastructure project that levels the playing field with other states and allows us to compete – really compete – on an international level for major concerts, sporting events, conferences and cultural exhibitions that Tasmanians normally need to jump on a plane and fly out of the state to have the opportunity to experience. Or in the worst case, move interstate to experience.

“It will also deliver and underpin the success of a Tasmanian AFL and AFLW team – a team that unites Tasmanians, provides benefits that flow to the north, north-west and south of the state and gives Tasmanians the opportunity to represent their state in a national competition that allows us to promote the best Tasmania has to offer – to the mainland and to the world.”

Speaking to reporters in Sydney today (Friday), Albanese said he held constructive talks with Rockliff, and that the case for federal funding is under review. “This needs to be viewed, though, as how will it transform urban development in that beautiful part of Hobart, in that beautiful state of Tasmania,” he added.

“We view urban development and city policy as very important and that’s the context in which we will assess any proposal.”