A Tasmania AFL Team is on the Cards
Federal funding for the new Hobart Macquarie Point AFL stadium and surrounding area will reportedly be announced by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese over the weekend, as per government sources for a new Tasmania AFL team.
The federal government’s $240 million commitment implies a $715 million stadium at the prime waterfront site will be built.
The acquisition of a 23,000-seat stadium is the final hurdle that the AFL must cross if Tasmania is to be granted the 19th AFL franchise licence.
The AFL commission and club presidents are expected to finalise the agreement early next week.
It will end Tasmania’s long quest to reach the national stage, but plenty must be done in the meantime before a Tasmanian AFL team plays their first match.
Here’s everything we know.
When will the first game of a Tasmanian team be played?
It plans to join the league in 2027, initially playing games at Hobart’s Bellerive Oval and Launceston’s York Park until the Macquarie Point stadium is completed.
Like recent expansion teams Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney, a Tasmanian squad may play in the VFL in the coming years before joining the AFL.
Timeline of the New AFL Stadium
- April 1994 — Peter Hodgman, then-sports minister, launches an unsuccessful push for a Tasmanian AFL franchise, including a 30,000-seat stadium at the Hobart Showgrounds.
- March 2008 – another Tasmanian AFL proposal was launched with the motto “It’s time.” The group is led by then-Minister Paula Wriedt, who claims they are treated with “aggression” in Melbourne.
- August 2008 – A Senate investigation was initiated to determine if favouring Western Sydney and the Gold Coast over a Tasmanian team was fair and reasonable.
- June 2009 — A Senate enquiry study acknowledges that a Tasmanian side would provide “enormous economic, social, and cultural benefits” and “strong support for the code for more than 100 years.”
- April 2014 — Incoming AFL head Gillon McLachlan thinks a Tasmanian team bid may take a decade to be considered.
- July 2016 — Former Western Bulldogs CEO Simon Garlick’s report rules out a Tasmanian team in the near future.
- March 2018 — Gillon McLachlan has announced the formation of a new steering committee to examine the future of Tasmanian football.
- July 2018 — The committee does not suggest an AFL licence for Tasmania, but it does recommend that the state be granted provisional re-entry into the VFL beginning in 2021.
- June 2019 — The formation of a new task force to present a new bid for a Tasmanian AFL team.
- March 2022 — Premier Peter Gutwein announces a proposal for a 27,000-seat, $750 million waterfront stadium based on the state having its own AFL team.
- November 2022 — The AFL secures an in-principle agreement for a Tasmanian franchise, contingent on the support of other team presidents and the construction of a new stadium.
- February 2023- Gillon McLachlan pledges a cash injection for Tasmanian football in February 2023, but only if the federal government agrees to contribute $240 million to the stadium.
- April 2023 — The last $240 million needed for Hobart’s Macquarie Point stadium is expected to be included in Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s May budget, opening the door for the state to get its own AFL licence.
New AFL Tasmania Team Details
Not a great deal has been said so far as it is only in the beginning stages, however, there are a few details we have compiled that give an indication of what we can come to expect.
What Does the Deal Entail?
The stadium is expected to cost $715 million, with the state government contributing $375 million and the federal government contributing $240 million.
The AFL will provide $15 million, with the remaining $85 million coming from private loans secured by land sales or leases.
The stadium at Macquarie Point is expected to cost $715 million.
The Tasmanian government has agreed to pay $12 million per year for 12 years, for a grand total of $144 million, plus $60 million to create a high-performance complex.
In exchange, the AFL has revealed its own $360 million funding package for the new franchise.
This includes the stadium donation and a $209 million investment in the new club.
It also includes a $10 million investment in the high-performance complex, a $33 million investment in junior development, and a $93 million increase in support for grassroots football.
The stadium’s funding will be unveiled this weekend.
What Would the New Team’s Name be and What Will They Look Like?
It hasn’t been decided yet, but the Devils – a term popular with Tasmanian football clubs — are a strong possibility.
Because few teams in the AFL wear dark green, a version of the iconic map Guernsey could be in the works.
Local Talent for the New Tasmania AFL Team
Most of Tasmania’s most significant current players are beyond 30, but Richmond captain Toby Nankervis will be 33 years old in 2027 when the team is expected to have their first season, so he could be a prime candidate to complete his career in Tasmania.
Lachie Cowan, a Carlton defender, is making a name for himself in his debut season and could be a top contender among younger players. Colby McKercher and Jack Callinan are potential first-round picks for this year.
Where Will the Team’s Home Games be?
Fans are in focus during an AFL game in Hobart, but North Melbourne and Geelong players appear hazy in the front.
The plan is to hold seven AFL home games at Macquarie Point and four at York Park. In addition, both stadiums will have AFLW games, as will Penguin’s Dial Park, which will also host AFL pre-season games.
Hawthorn presently plays four home games at York Park each year and has also committed to hosting a game against a Tasmanian team at the venue.
What Does a New Team Mean for the AFL?
It’s a significant shift. The league will revert to an unbalanced number of clubs, with one of the 19 teams receiving a bye each round, advancing them in the league without having to play a match.
It could result in significant changes in the number of games played each season and a push for a 20th licence or for one of the existing ailing clubs to combine or fold.
Significant draught concessions, such as those granted to the Gold Coast and GWS, will also be considered, with existing clubs losing some key players.
Club presidents in the AFL have also expressed worries about sharing money with another club.
How Have Tasmanians Reacted?
There has been substantial popular support for Tasmania joining the AFL, but the inclusion of a new stadium in the bid has been contentious – an opinion survey last year found that less than half of Tasmanians supported the stadium.
The arrangement had tripartite political support, but the Greens withdrew their support over the stadium last weekend, and Tasmanian Labour has been consistently hostile to the stadium project.
Federal Liberal MPs, including Bass MP Bridget Archer and frontbencher Jonathon Duniam, have supported the stadium.
It implies that there will be a fair amount of excitement about a Tasmanian team joining the AFL and criticism about how much it has cost to get there.