Tasmanian election impact on 19th team, Labor wants to use existing Hobart, Launceston stadiums before Macquarie Point build


Tasmanian Labor leader Rebecca White has left the door open to build the Macquarie Point stadium if elected, but believes the 19th AFL team must first “prove that it works” before investing in the venue.

The March 23 election could have a major impact on the future of the Tassie side, which is set to be launched on March 18 as its name, colours, logo and jersey are unveiled. It’s expected they will be called the Tasmania Devils and wear the traditional state green strip.

While current premier and Liberal leader Jeremy Rockliff fully supports the construction of a new stadium in Hobart, pledging earlier in the campaign to cap spending at $375 million amid suggestions it could cost as much as $1 billion, Labor has been critical of the heavy financial commitment given the state’s other issues.

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The AFL has been clear the construction of a new stadium is a non-negotiable for the 19th club’s existence but White is keen to renegotiate with the league if her party wins power.

Speaking at the first leaders’ debate on Tuesday, she said the state could not afford the current deal and wants the team to begin life playing at existing venues – Hobart’s Blundstone Arena and Launceston’s UTAS Stadium – to prove it warrants the expense.

“You prove up a team – you prove that it works, you demonstrate that you’ve got the crowd numbers – and then if we need to invest in infrastructure to support the capacity … then maybe we make a decision collectively to do that,” she said.

“We have a bigger problem with people not fitting into our hospital than we do with them not fitting into our stadiums.

“If the team is as successful as everyone expects it to be, then let’s as a community agree that we should build infrastructure to support it, but right now we’ve got two great grounds … let’s use those first.”

A concept image of Hobart’s proposed stadium at Macquarie Point — the design is yet to be finalised. (Supplied: AFL)Source: Supplied

Rockliff argued the deal with the AFL could not be reworked, saying the league supported Tasmania’s cap of $375 million spending – the bulk of the rest of the funding will come from the federal government – and said the private sector would cover extra costs.

“Rebecca’s position is as clear as mud,” Rockliff said.

“I don’t want to see the aspiration of our young girls and boys to be killed off by politics.

“We’ve capped it at $375m, it brings aspiration and it’s fantastic for young people in Tasmania.”

The most recent state polls have the Liberals clearly ahead on the primary vote and very likely to win the most seats, but falling short of a majority and thus needing support from independents or minor parties to form government.

Rockliff ruled out a deal with the Greens while White said Labor would not do any deals to form government, even though it appears exceedingly unlikely her party could reach a majority.


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