Macquarie Point selected as Tasmania’s AFL stadium location, ABC understands

Hobart’s Macquarie Point is set to be declared to understand the Tasmanian government’s preferred site for a new AFL stadium, the ABCs.

In February, the ABC revealed the government had chosen nearby Regatta Point on Hobart’s waterfront as its ideal location for a 27,000 seat stadium that would house an AFL team if the state was to be granted a license.

But a shift in position will see Macquarie Point become the preferred location, with an official announcement expected within the next 24 hours.

The change of heart follows discussions with the AFL, whose powerbrokers were impressed with the Macquarie Point site following visits earlier this year.

In June, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan toured the site alongside the league’s general manager of property development Matthew Chun.

It’s understood the AFL powerbrokers preferred the 9.3 hectare Macquarie Point site ahead of nearby Regatta Point, a view that was reinforced following a second visit to the state by Chun and AFL Chief Financial Officer Travis Auld in July.

Macquarie Point will become the government’s preferred location for a stadium despite a February site selection report that stated: “Macquarie Point has been touted for other uses and throughout our project, we have gained an understanding that the chances of using this site are more or less non-existent.”

The government commissioned report, compiled by MCS Management and Consulting, ranked six sites around the Hobart CBD as potential stadium locations, ranking each based on environmental, cultural, buildability, governance and location scores.

Macquarie Point scored highest, but Regatta Point earnt the report’s recommendation.

Among the ventures touted for the Macquarie Point sire are retail and housing projects, an Antarctic and Science precinct, as well as the truth and reconciliation art park.

There’s also some concern about the potential impact the height of a new stadium would have on the neighboring Hobart Cenotaph.

‘It’s a huge opportunity’, premier says

The government now plans to build a new stadium at the Macquarie Point site as part of a wider sport, arts and entertainment precinct, with the stadium contingent on Tasmania receiving an AFL license.

It’s understood that federal funding for a stadium is yet to be secured, but the state government has committed to funding up to half the cost of a new build, which it has previously estimated to cost in the ballpark of $750m.

The potential construction cost has attracted heavy criticism from both Labor and the Greens, as well as federal Independent MP Andrew Wilkie.

On Friday, Premier Jeremy Rockliff told ABC Radio Hobart: “It’s a huge opportunity. I know people aren’t sold on the idea as yet, but I know people in 2022 who aren’t sold on the stadium, I know in 2032, they will say that was the right call.”

A man wearing a suit speaks in front of a collection of microphones.
Jeremy Rockliff says he knows some people aren’t sold on the idea, but it’s a huge opportunity for the state. (ABC News: Luke Bowden)

The government is also yet to secure federal funding for a major refurb of Launceston’s York Park, which it intends to use as a second base for a prospective Tasmanian team, but has committed $65m to the project on the provision those funds are matched by the federal government.

In May, the government awarded a $7.5m contract to architecture firm Populous to design the redevelopment of the Launceston stadium.

The stadium announcement is set to come the day before the 18 AFL club presidents are formally presented with Tasmania’s finalized team bid, and while not part of the official bid, the stadium move to Macquarie Point will be deemed a win for the AFL, which is working to sell the presidents on Tasmania.

It’s expected to take approximately two weeks for the 18-club boards to consider Tasmania’s proposal, before deciding whether or not the AFL should grant the state entry into the league.


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