By Michael Bailey
TCCI Chief Executive
The announcement that Tasmania could field an AFL team by 2025 was greeted with great excitement and overall enthusiasm around the State.
From a TCCI perspective, I believe the AFL Taskforce Report which was released heralds the creation of enormous economic and social opportunities for the whole of Tasmania.
Since the 1980s, when the national competition became a reality, Tasmania has been waiting for its opportunity.
The AFL Taskforce Report outlines a Tasmanian AFL team with a $40 million annual budget, with an $8 million contribution from the State Government and the rest from national and international sponsorship and membership.
What is exciting as a long-term industry is that the Report also predicts an over-arching football “industry” of $110 million of economic activity annually.
From a Statewide perspective, I believe Tasmanians, like Western Australians did when the West Coast Eagles joined the AFL in 1987, will become members, whether or not they are already members of an existing club.
And I was surprised by the statistic that some 90,000 people are already members of the 18 current clubs.”
The economic benefits include:
- Launceston’s UTAS stadium being expanded from a 20,000 seat capacity to 30,000;
- The construction job impact will be significant and will dovetail with the University’s “urbanisation” program in Launceston;
- Hobart becoming the Tasmanian team’s base, perhaps centred around the University’s Sandy Bay campus. The Report found that basing the team in the capital will aid in retaining senior players and draftees into the future for the long-term success of the club
- This Hobart base will create its own new, economic and employment hub;
- Greater long-term domestic tourism with opposition club members flying into Launceston and Hobart for Tasmanian matches;
- There will greater opportunities for investment in accommodation in both Launceston and Hobart, as well as overall tourism throughout the State;
- Every AFL club has 40-plus players and 100 staff – creating long-term employment opportunities for Tasmanians.
The prospect of Tasmania playing Collingwood, Richmond, Carlton or Essendon – either in Launceston or Hobart – will be a complete game-changer. We have seen the success of Hawthorn in Launceston and now North Melbourne in Hobart.
I believe the creation of a Tasmanian AFL team will change football forever in this State – creating real pathways for both young men and women that have never existed before.
Because what will follow from a Tasmanian men’s team is hopefully a Tasmanian women’s team – with AFLW arguably the fastest-growing sport in the country.
In the next five years, all Tasmanian football fans must embrace the future – and back the Tasmanian Devils team to play in the VFL.
The AFL Taskforce Report says a member base of 35,000 will be required to create a viable club. I would suggest Tasmania can easily surpass that target.