Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has been urged to consider the 'seismic' impact a new stadium in Tasmania will have on Australian sport, with the venue for a 19th AFL team in the state becoming a sticking point. Richmond Tigers CEO Brendon Gale even encouraged the PM to consider the Socceroos' recent run at the FIFA World Cup in weighing up whether the federal government will contribute to the construction of a new stadium.
The AFL has remained firm in its stance that a new stadium must be a part of Tasmania gaining a league license, despite existing venues Bellrieve Oval and York Park each being capable of holding as many as 20,000 spectators. The Tasmanian state Liberal government, led by premier Peter Gutwein, has pledged to commit to half the costs of a proposed $750 million venue in Hobart.
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The new stadium, to be built in Macquarie Point, would seat 23,000 and boast a retractable roof, was announced in March by the Tasmanian state government. While the merits of a new stadium have been up for debate in Tasmania, the move was welcomed by the AFL.
Gale, who hails from Tasmania, implored Albanese to consider the potential benefits of the stadium, despite admitting there were 'local politics playing out' as to its merits. He said most AFL clubs recognised a club based in the state would be an overall benefit to the game.
“I think it would be wonderful for football, it would be wonderful for the AFL, but I think there would be incredible outcomes for health, participation in sport, education and a whole range of other factors in Tasmania,” Gale said. “I think the impact would be seismic for the state. That’s what I would be saying to Anthony Albanese.”
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Gale was adamant Tasmania's bid for an AFL license was on track, despite the likes of Collingwood president Jeff Browne suggesting it would be 'premature' to award it in the coming months. The federal government is yet to decide whether it will commit to the project, or how much it will contribute if so.
“I think the AFL clubs have generally felt there’s a legitimate right for Tasmania to be included in the competition and I think that has been supported by a very, very strong and thorough business case,” Gale said. “I think we have a willing partner in the (Tasmanian) state government who is willing to invest in the vicinity of three quarters of a billion dollars over the life of the term, so it’s significant.
“There’s some local politics playing out with the stadium and I’m not too sure where it’s going to end up, but I think there’s a lot of enthusiasm.”
Albanese was asked earlier in the year whether Tasmania deserve to be in the AFL and the prime minster was adamant. “I hope Tassie does get an AFL team. Tasmania has produced some great champions in AFL over a long period of time,” Albanese said at the National Press Club in August.
“They’ve had of course Hawthorn, the team I support, who played at - I’m not sure what it’s called these days, it was Aurora Stadium at one stage, in Launny (Launceston). And of course North who play in Hobart. “But that’s a decision for the AFL to make.”
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