Plans for a $65 million upgrade of the York Park stadium in Launceston have been unveiled — but the second and third stages of the project remain unfunded.
- The new stand is said to provide an extra 1,000 seats and will feature improved facilities for players and coaches and better food and beverage outlets
- Tasmanian Premier says he will continue to lobby the federal Labor government for the additional $65 million to complete the other two stages
- Labor say the extension of Tasmania’s deal with Hawthorn to play games locally “reflects how far we are away from our own AFL team”
The upgrade will include a new Eastern Stand, improved playing facilities and a new entertainment precinct.
It will provide an extra 1,000 seats and will feature improved facilities for players and coaches and better food and beverage outlets.
Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff said it would provide “more contemporary infrastructure to take us forward”.
“It’s been many, many years since a significant upgrade of this magnitude and it’s very timely and secures footy for the north,” he said.
Construction will start later this year and is expected to be finished in early 2025.
The funding was announced last year as part of a Tasmanian Liberal election promise.
Despite the boost, the second and third stages of the $200 million project remain unfunded.
Mr Rockliff said he is continuing to lobby for the additional $65 million needed from the federal government so that stage two can go ahead.
“The other $65 million we continue to advocate for when it comes to the federal government,” Mr Rockliff said.
“I’ve had positive discussions with the Prime Minister on that as well.”
Launceston mayor Danny Gibson has welcomed the upcoming upgrade.
“We know that the temporary structure that will be replaced in stage one is in need of significant upgrade,” he said.
“And we also know, as was clearly documented in the Carter Report, that the opportunity to increase the number of patrons we can have at UTAS Stadium will be a significant game changer.”
It’s not the only large-scale project lobbying for funding in Tasmania.
The Tasmanian government is seeking $240 million from the federal government for a stadium to be built at Hobart’s Macquarie Point, and talks are underway to increase the capacity of the Derwent Entertainment Centre.
“I’ve had discussions with the Prime Minister, I know that the Prime Minister is enthusiastic about supporting Tasmania,” Mr Rockliff said.
“When it comes to Macquarie Point, it is more than just AFL, it is a lot more than just AFL, it is more than a stadium, it’s creating an urban renewal project that all Tasmanian’s can be very proud of.”
Hawthorn deal extended
As plans were unveiled, the government also announced that Hawthorn will play AFL fixtures in Launceston for the next three seasons as part of a $13.5 million contract extension with the Tasmanian government.
The new deal, however, is contingent on Tasmania being granted an AFL and AFLW licence.
The Tasmanian government had already secured Hawthorn games for the coming season, but the extension would see the club remain in Tasmania until the end of 2025.
The Hawks will play four regular season matches and one pre-season match in Launceston per year.
“We’ve had a great relationship with Hawthorn,” Premier Rockliff said.
“This is more than just footy, this is about ensuring that both Tasmania and indeed the Hawthorn Football Club benefit mutually.”
Hawthorn president Andy Gowers welcomed the contract extension.
“The partnership between our club and the state and indeed northern Tasmania has been such a positive one for everybody involved,” he said.
“We love coming and playing in Launceston and we also support Tasmania’s push for its own team.
“We very much welcome Tassie having its own side and Hawthorn continuing to have a presence in Tasmania.”
AFL team push ‘a debacle’
Labor spokesman Josh Willie said Tasmania still appeared to be a long way away from having an AFL team.
“The extension of the Hawthorn deal reflects how far we are away from our own AFL team thanks to the state government’s debacle over the proposed stadium for Hobart.
“In February 2021, then-premier Peter Gutwein wrote to the AFL saying the Tasmanian government wouldn’t negotiate with Hawthorn or North Melbourne for new deals until they received a guarantee on our own team.
“The AFL said that we would have a decision on our team by August 2022, but we’re still waiting and the whole AFL team has become mired in the stadium issue.”