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A$735m stadium proposed for AFL team in Northern Territory

Featured image credit: AFLNT

Featured image credit: AFLNT

AFLNT, an organisation seeking to bring an Australian Football League (AFL) team to the Northern Territory, has set out how a new stadium in Darwin costing up to A$735m (£387.9m/€450.8m/$486.2m) could help it achieve its goals.

The Australian Football League Team Northern Territory Taskforce has completed a strategic business case, which includes a 10-year plan to establish an NT-based AFL club. The Taskforce, made up of Northern Territory Government and AFLNT representatives, along with industry and AFL leaders, was formed in 2021 to lead the investigation into establishing an AFL club in the Territory.

A new 25,000-seat stadium costing A$300m has previously been touted for Darwin’s CBD, having the benefit of being closer to the city centre than the current TIO Stadium. The strategic business case released yesterday (Thursday) has now stated that a new stadium in Darwin’s CBD could be built within the next seven to 10 years with a price tag of between A$700m and A$735m.

The plan also calls for A$80m in upgrades to Traeger Park in Alice Springs over the next three years, plus a further A$160m in further renovations to the facility, along with a redevelopment of TIO Stadium.

The business case sets out that a multi-purpose Darwin City Stadium is at an early stage of planning so a future Northern Territory Government can have a clear roadmap and plan, if it were to decide in future to proceed with the project.

It has been determined that the current TIO Stadium is capable of being upgraded and would provide a cost-effective way of delivering Territorians a better facility to watch major sporting events like AFL matches.

The Territory Government has appointed Investment NT to guide the next stage of the work towards an AFL team for the Territory. An advisory group has been formed to oversee the implementation of recommendations provided in the strategic business case, and decisions around investment and the benefits of establishing an AFL team in the NT.

The strategic business case is being looked upon as the first stage in realising a locally based AFL club, with several key recommendations identified as next steps over the coming 18 months.

Northern Territory Minister for Sport, Kate Worden, said: “The Northern Territory is home to some of the best AFL players in the country. Having an AFL club right on our doorstop will mean we get to retain some of that talent and give local players the opportunity to thrive at an elite level right here in the NT.

“Aussie rules is an integral part of the culture and the social fabric of the Northern Territory, and we’re committed to investigating every possibility of establishing an AFL club to the Territory.”

AFLNT chairperson, Sean Bowden, added: “AFL is our national game and with continued work, the Territory will have the opportunity to be part of a truly national league with a local team supported by a passionate Territory community.

“Just as importantly, a Territory team would give our young people not just a team to follow, but a dream to aspire to, whether as a player, a supporter, a physio, a team manager, a statistician, or media broadcaster. And these options will be here in the Territory, not interstate.

“The AFL has a proven track record of positively influencing community outcomes in relation to education attendance, mental and physical health, crime and anti-social behaviour and equality.”

The AFL is said look favourably on what would be the creation of a 20th franchise, as a means to add a 10th weekly game, generating further revenue for the League.

In May 2023, Tasmania ended a long-running effort to secure a franchise with confirmation that it had been awarded the 19th licence for a club that will play at a new stadium in Hobart.

The team is lined up to enter the AFL in 2028, with Australian architectural firm Cox this week being announced as the lead design consultant for the Mac Point Multipurpose Stadium, a proposed venue for the club.