Jeremy Rockliff, the Premier of the Australian state of Tasmania, has detailed plans for A$65m (£37m/€42m/$46m) worth of upgrades at UTAS Stadium in Launceston.
The stage-one upgrades will include a new Eastern Stand, improved playing facilities and an entertainment precinct to enhance the pre-game experience. Over 1,000 seats will be added as part of the project.
Rockliff said the upgraded stadium will lead to more elite sports being played in northern Tasmania, more money for local businesses and increased tourism. UTAS Stadium forms part of the York Park district and stages AFL, cricket and football.
Earlier today (Tuesday), AFL team Hawthorn agreed a new two-year agreement with the Tasmanian government to continue playing games at the 19,000-capacity UTAS Stadium until at least the end of 2025.
As part of the agreement, Hawthorn will play four home matches at UTAS Stadium each season for at least the next three years. The team has a partnership with the Tasmanian government stretching back to 2001.
Australian broadcaster ABC reports that work on the UTAS Stadium upgrades will begin later this year, with the project expected to be completed in early 2025. There are plans for two more stages of upgrades, but funding is yet to be secured.
Speaking to ABC, Rockliff said that he is continuing to lobby for the further A$65m required for stage two of the upgrades, with “positive discussions” taking place with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
Tasmania is pushing for an AFL team of its own, and last month the state government set out its case for A$240m in federal government funding for a new stadium project that is designed to deliver a franchise to Hobart.
The strategic business case for Tasmania’s new arts, entertainment and sports precinct was delivered to the Prime Minister, with a reduced price tag for the stadium.
In November, Tasmania’s government and the AFL 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, Rockliff and AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan described the agreement as a “great step forward” after years of discussions.
The final business case presented to the federal government last month stated the roofed stadium at Macquarie Point in Hobart will cost A$715m. The requirement for federal funding dropped from around half the total cost to A$240m.