Eddie McGuire erupts over 'highly insulting' uproar around Tassie AFL team

The former Collingwood president slammed opponents of Tasmania's new stadium, despite widespread opposition among residents.

Eddie McGuire speaks on Channel 9 program Footy Classified.

As protests and political turmoil continue to dog the planned new stadium in Hobart for the incoming Tasmanian AFL franchise, Eddie McGuire suggested residents do not understand how the funding model for the stadium will work. The former Collingwood president also criticised fellow AFL commentator, Tasmanian born Tim Lane, for his suggestion that the AFL's offer was a team with a new stadium, or none at all.

While the AFL's announcement of Tassie team was met with widespread approval in the state, the caveat that it must come with a brand new stadium has caused division. The state is in the midst of a housing and health crisis, with many residents opposed to the construction of the $715 million stadium in Hobart on the basis that, in the short term at least, there are major concerns that must be addressed first.

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Protestors made their voice heard on the lawns outside state parliament last week, calling for the money to go towards much needed housing investment and health services. On Wednesday night, McGuire took aim at those voicing their concerns, saying that the stadium would provide thousands of jobs.

“Does anybody actually look at the economic impact of what will happen?” he said on Footy Classified. “That the unemployed will get jobs building the stadium?

"That they’ll learn how to do things in the gig economy? That you look at the economic impact of Victorian major events, that’ve turned Victoria from being a rust-bucket place in the 90s into the world’s most liveable city within 20 years.

“Have a look at what’s just happened in Western Australia (with Optus Stadium) - 300,000 people, a record, have tried to get on to get tickets to Coldplay, who would’ve flown over Perth for the last 100 years because they’ve got a stadium that you can get good crowds into, that’s got great acoustics, that has been built since Wi-Fi and 5G.”

Opinion polling commissioned by the Tasmanian state Labour party, which is currently in opposition, showed more than 65% of those polled were against the new stadium, with just 16.7% in favour. Longtime football commentator Tim Lane, himself a Tasmanian, said the AFL's point blank refusal to commit to a new team without the stadium along with it raised questions as to how committed they actually were to Tasmanian fans.

“Does the AFL really care about there being a Tasmanian team or not?” he asked on 3AW. “And if it does, is it prepared to bend to give Tasmania some wiggle room to actually get to a point where, whether a stadium like this needs to be built or built on that spot, is something given due consideration?

"Rather than basically having it dropped on the state and saying you either accept this or you just forget the idea of having a team? A Tasmanian team should’ve been a medium for great unity in Tasmania like it’s never known, but in fact it has become a matter of dramatic division.”

Eddie McGuire fires up at Tim Lane over Tasmania stadium opposition

McGuire was left visibly angry when discussing Lane's comments on Footy Classified, declaring Tasmania had 'never known unity' over anything and saying his comments were 'insulting' to the AFL. He said there was widespread opposition to the Tasmanian team for years in the AFL, which was only overcome when the political momentum behind the push became undeniable.

“The only part of that that makes sense to me is the part where it says ‘unity where they’ve never known’, because they’ve never known unity when it comes to football or anything else down in Tasmania,” McGuire said. “I find it highly, highly insulting to the AFL what Tim said there, that they dropped it - ‘do they really care about Tasmania?’

Gillon McLachlan speaks at a press conference announcing the AFL's new team in Tasmania.
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan announced Tasmania was confirmed to be the league's 19th team in early May. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

“Gill McLachlan and the AFL executive and the clubs have used every bit of political expedience that they could for $300 million out of Anthony Albanese. They’ve worked the Tasmanian government.

“None of the clubs wanted this originally but they’ve thought, no, we’ll do it. It’s gonna blow the competition up and everyone’s prepared to do it, but not if these people don’t want it.”

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