Rival Hobart stadium proposal receives council backing

Featured image credit: Stadia Precinct Consortium

A rival stadium project that has emerged to the Tasmanian Government-backed venture which is designed to house a new Australian Football League (AFL) franchise in Hobart has gained the backing of Hobart City Council.

The Council has voted in the majority to provide in-principle support of Stadia Precinct Consortium to progress their proposal for a stadium at Regatta Point. Plans for the rival project, under the name ‘Stadia 2.0’, were revealed in October and have been drawn up by Paul Lennon, who was Tasmania’s Labor Premier between March 2004 and May 2008, and Tasmanian engineer Dean Coleman.

Whilst a new multi-purpose stadium with a retractable roof is at the heart of the proposal, the Consortia said its approach is to view the “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” as an Urban Renewal Project, and more than just an AFL stadium, with a forward-thinking and broader focus on the way Tasmanians live, work, and play.

With this mind, the Consortia outlined plans for the site to house a private hospital, with an additional health facility in the initial design phase, residential development, meeting and convention facilities, hotel(s), restaurant/retail and other commercial tenancies.

The complex would be developed on further reclaimed land in the River Derwent, at a site previously targeted for the venture, using private sector financing. 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 before eventually reverting back to the nine-hectare Macquarie Point site, which was reported to be the AFL’s preferred site.

In a statement explaining its decision, Hobart City Council said: “The Council decision recognises that it is a condition of the state government’s consideration of the Stadia 2.0 proposal that, among other things, it receives the in-principle support of the Hobart City Council.

“Council’s decision is to provide in-principle support and land lord consent for Stadia Precinct Consortium Pty Ltd to progress their proposal through a formal planning assessment phase.”

The Council said its decision is subject to two key considerations and conditions. Firstly, that the Council’s support is not at the exclusion of any alternative proposals for Regatta Point. Secondly, that the ongoing support of the Council is conditional upon the preparation of a further report containing qualified advice about the proposal and the request for in-principle support of the disposal of public land in accordance with Council’s probity policy. Any disposal of public land will require a separate decision.

The currently proposed stadium could boost the local economy by more than A$2.26bn (£1.17bn/€1.37bn/$1.49bn) over its first 10 years, according to a cost-benefit analysis of the controversial project that was released in September.

Construction of the A$715m waterfront stadium was a condition of the AFL granting a licence to Tasmania in May for a team that is lined up to enter the competition in 2028. However, the 23,000-seat roofed stadium deal, which is backed by the Liberal state government and terms of which were released later in May, has attracted strong opposition from locals.