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Tassie's AFL bid depends on a new stadium, says McLachlan

Football

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan has indicated Tasmania’s bid for a 19th licence is contingent on the island state building a new stadium.

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McLachlan met with recently appointed Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff in Hobart today ahead of the 18 club presidents’ vote on expansion in August.

McLachlan confirmed the league will only consider issuing a new licence, rather than relocating an existing club to Tasmania.

The state government in March announced plans to develop a multi-purpose stadium at Hobart’s waterfront, costing an estimated $750 million.

“If you look around this country … and you look at the cities where AFL and other sports (are) being played, you need a stadium that can compete in 2022 or 2025, 2026,” McLachlan said.

“Whether it’s contingent or however you want to frame it … this team needs and will have a new stadium if it wants a licence. And I think Tasmanians will expect that.”

McLachlan described the state government’s funding pledge of $150 million, including $50 million for a high-performance centre and $10 million per year over a decade, as a “good start”.

McLachlan said he and Rockliff discussed 11 substantive points surrounding the bid.

Rockliff said the talks were progressive and the funding showed the government was “bloody serious”.

“We’re on the one page in terms of progressing a Tasmanian licence. We believe very much as a state government we have a very strong offer on the table,” he said.

Tasmania currently hosts AFL matches at Hobart’s Blundstone Arena with a capacity of 19,500, and at University of Tasmania Stadium in Launceston which can hold roughly 20,000 people.

The state government has said it will seek stadium funding from multiple levels of government, as well as via the private sector and equity raising.

Some $1.25 million is being spent progressing feasibility assessments, which are expected to go to market early in the 2022/23 financial year.

Right to information documents have shown the $750 million price tag could blow out, as it was a “ballpark” figure that didn’t include site-specific costs.

McLachlan said a team could compete in the league if a stadium wasn’t finished but a “line of sight” on the infrastructure would be needed.

“We’ve been down this path before whether it’s the Gold Coast, Western Sydney with GWS, Adelaide Oval and in Western Australia,” he said.

“It’s heavy lifting in terms of getting them built but they change cities, they change states. Everyone has to lift their eyes.

“Let’s get on board and build something that knocks everyone’s socks off and have a plan for that.

“There’s other stuff to do but on the stadium … it’s got to be like that otherwise we shouldn’t be talking.”

Rockliff said a new stadium would have broad benefits and help attract other events and sports.

– AAP

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