Australian football’s AFL is on the cusp of adding a Tasmanian team to the league after all 18 existing clubs unanimously voted to grant the game’s 19th license to the state.
During a video meeting today (May 2), the presidents decided within 15 minutes and there were no objections.
After the meeting, outgoing AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said the AFL Commission had ratified the decision, adding: “See you in Tassie tomorrow.”
The latest step in Tasmania’s bid for a new team comes after the federal government pledged AUD240 ($160 million) million in funding towards a 23,000-seat, AUD715-million stadium at Macquarie Point in Hobart to house the new team over the weekend (May 29) – a final hurdle that had to be cleared before the presidents could vote.
Building the new stadium was a condition for the state to be granted entry into the national competition. Along with the federal government’s AUD240 million, Tasmania’s state government has pledged AUD375 million towards the stadium project.
The AFL, meanwhile, will provide AUD15 million for the stadium and AUD85 million will come from “borrowings against the land sale or lease for commercial uses.”
McLachlan is expected to officially award Tasmania its AFL license in Hobart tomorrow (May 3) alongside Andrew Dillion, the new chief executive of the AFL, after the AFL commission signs off on the deal.
Dillon, who was announced as McLachlan’s successor yesterday (May 1), said the Tasmanian team will be a priority for him and McLachlan during the transition period until October when he will take over.
At his unveiling, Dillon said: “It’s a really exciting time and there’s some key decisions probably to be had in the next potential day or coming days and coming weeks about Tasmania. But all the building blocks are in place and we’re really looking forward.”
However, the bid has not been universally welcomed, with many Tasmanians deeming the stadium's price tag unacceptable and calling for the government to invest in the state’s health system and public housing projects.
After the confirmation, Tasmania will become the first expansion team since Great Western Sydney was awarded a license in 2010 and entered the AFL in 2012.
Under the AFL’s plan, the new team will enter the league in 2027, first playing games at Hobart’s Bellerive Oval and Launceston’s York Part before the new stadium is finished in 2028-29.
The AFL has committed AUD320 million into the state over the next 10 years, including AUD90 million towards local and grassroots development, while another AUD33 million is set to be used to fund three new talent academies in the state in the north, northwest, and south, to foster young talent.
Another AUD210 million will be used as “base funding” for the launch of the new club and added that the league will also chip in at least AUD15 million toward the new stadium.
In November, the Tasmanian state government and the league struck an in-principal agreement on the commercial terms of the new team.
The league accepted the Tasmanian government’s commitment to pay AUD12 million per year over 12 years to underwrite the club, as well as AUD60 million to build a high-performance center in Hobart that will also house the administration.