Tasmania has ended a long-running effort to secure an Australian Football League (AFL) franchise with confirmation that it has been awarded the 19th licence for a club that will play at a new stadium in Hobart.
Today’s (Wednesday’s) decision by the AFL is intended to make the Aussie rules league truly national. AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan made the announcement in Hobart after yesterday receiving the support and endorsement of the presidents and chairs of all 18 existing AFL clubs and unanimous support of all members of the AFL Commission.
The AFL today signed binding commitments with the Tasmanian Government that committed to delivering on the conditions behind the franchise award, including partnering with the Federal Government for the construction of a 23,000-seat roofed stadium at Macquarie Point.
The AFL men’s team is expected to enter the competition in the 2028 Premiership season, with a proposed timeline for a women’s team entry into the AFLW competition to be worked through shortly.
McLachlan said: “There are big days and there are really big days. For our national game of Australian rules football and for the state of Tasmania this feels really big. Historic. Big for football, big for Tasmanians, big for all AFL supporters.
“Today is an important and historic day, for football in Tasmania, for football in Australia, for footy supporters all around the country. Today we are here to ensure a foundation football state, filled with believers, supporters and gravel rash grit, get the opportunity to unite their state and unite behind a single cause.”
The AFL’s last expansion process saw the Gold Coast Suns and the Greater Western Sydney Giants enter the League in 2011 and 2012, respectively. With the establishment of the 19th licence, the AFL and Tasmanian Government will now work to establish a club nominations committee and will select a club chair and board of directors.
Details of the club’s training and administration base will also be worked through in coming months. AFL Tasmania will launch its Futures Report including the future structure of state and community football. Later in the year, a community campaign will be launched to select the brand of the new club including name, logo, guernsey and song.
Today’s announcement comes after the Federal Government on Saturday pledged to provide A$240m (£129m/€147m/$161m) towards the AFL stadium project in Hobart. The Tasmanian Government had already pledged A$375m to the project, with the AFL itself to contribute A$15m.
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 was reported to be the AFL’s preferred site.
The new franchise is expected to play its home games at Hobart’s Bellerive Oval and Launceston’s York Park before its new stadium is delivered in 2028 or 2029. While the stadium design and budget has yet to be finalised, both McLachlan and Tasmanian Premier, Jeremy Rockliff, have confirmed it will feature a roof in some form.
McLachlan said: “The design will play out. There are so many variables in building a stadium, but we’ve had a reasonable history in doing it. Ultimately it is a stadium owned and developed by the state and we’ll have a seat on the project control group.
“Macquarie Point is an iconic spot. It will be an amazing venue for our supporters to come and watch the greatest sport in the world. Whatever the final configuration of the venue, it will be a huge asset for our competition.”
Commenting on the award of the franchise, Rockliff added: “This is a proud and ground-breaking moment in our history – put simply, Tasmania will never be the same again. After more than a century, the AFL will finally be complete and recognised as a truly national competition.
“We have fought hard to deliver this and I couldn’t be prouder to deliver our own team, that will take the field in our own colours, and sing our own song. For everyone who has backed us and believed – thank you for sticking with us, as we’ve brought this home. Tasmania’s time has come.”