“There is a submission being made, we are giving consideration to it as part of our budget process. But [we are] also working on ways in which we can ensure that whatever happens at Macquarie Point produces maximum benefit for the people at Tasmania.”
The stadium proposal has become contentious in Tasmania with 10 federal MPs from different political corners calling on Wednesday for a licence to be granted for a team in Tasmania without any federal funds needing to be committed for a new stadium.
Andrew Wilkie, an independent MP involved in the statement who has previously pushed back against the proposed stadium, said that he wanted an upgraded Blundstone Arena in Hobart and UTAS Stadium in Launceston used instead.
No federal Labor MP from Tasmania signed the letter despite some having previously expressed misgivings about the proposal.
In the lead-up to the election last year Brian Mitchell, who holds the seat of Lyons for Labor, said the proposal was a “flashy headline” and that Labor’s priorities in government would be health, housing and aged care for Tasmania.
This masthead spoke to several federal Labor MPs, who asked not to be named so they could discuss funding of the stadium, and all indicated the proposal was a live option for the government.
“Albo loves building infrastructure. If I was a betting man, I’d say he will do it,” one of those MPs said.
McLachlan said in his experience “change is controversial”, pointing to stadiums being built in Adelaide, Perth, the Gold Coast, Docklands and western Sydney in the past decade.
“All these projects were opposed and now all are completely embraced and celebrated by their communities,” he said.
Games would be played in Launceston at a redeveloped UTAS Stadium and the new Hobart stadium, McLachlan said.
The money the AFL says it will invest in Tasmania includes $209 million for the new club over its first 10 years to cover base funding, variable funding, and AFLW funding. In comparison, Gold Coast and GWS will receive the highest AFL distribution of about $25 million each for 2023.
The AFL expects a new stadium to draw 5000 tourists each game, and 123,000 visitors a year from interstate and overseas for events.
The AFL investment will include $93 million for game development and community football. The AFL last year committed to spending 10 per cent of revenue back into grassroots and game development, including in Tasmania.
The funding also includes three new “talent academies”, located in the north, north-west and south of the state, which will receive $30 million to develop young male and female talent.
“The AFL investment also represents a top-to-bottom revitalisation of football across the state to ensure Australia’s game remains Tasmania’s game,” McLachlan said.
With Michael Gleeson
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