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Finance

Australian government set to splash cash on Tasmania’s AFL stadium

Macquarie Point precinct development

Featured image credit: Philp Lighton Architects

Macquarie Point precinct development

Featured image credit: Philp Lighton Architects

Australia’s federal government is set to contribute the requested A$240m (£133.1m/€151.4m/$160.6m) towards the Tasmania stadium project that would bring an Australian Football League (AFL) team to the state.

Numerous reports in the Australian media claim Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will announce in the coming days his intention to inject the cash requested by local officials for the A$715m Macquarie Point precinct development in Hobart from federal funds. The Tasmanian state government, led by Premier Jeremy Rockliff, will contribute A$375m and the AFL itself will contribute A$15m.

Reports claim the federal cash would be used to facilitate the construction of the stadium by paying for associated remediation work and housing for low-wage workers such as nurses, which will be part of the precinct.

The green light for the stadium precinct funding will be followed by confirmation from AFL chief executive officer Gillon McLachlan that Tasmania will field the AFL’s 19th team. Tasmania’s Government and the AFL last year reached an in-principle agreement for the creation of a new team in the state, with the funding of a new stadium the only remaining impediment. McLachlan recently pledged to spend A$360m on a Tasmanian team should stadium plans progress.

It is expected that the stadium will have a capacity of around 23,000, but it is believed that it will not feature a roof, which has been part of plans to date. If the stadium was to be completely covered it would not be able to host Test cricket matches under ICC rules, which some claim would make the cost of the stadium unviable.

Albanese discussed the project with politicians in Tasmania earlier this month and, in response to critics of the project and its requirement of taxpayer funding, outlined a plan to use investment in the stadium as a means of making Tasmania more prosperous.

He said: “It should be seen not as a site of a potential footy stadium, but as a site for urban redevelopment that will enhance the city of Hobart and make it even better in the future, that will enhance economic activities.”

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.

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