Launceston Mayor Danny Gibson has welcomed comments from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese today regarding the proposed redevelopment of Launceston’s premier sporting facility, University of Tasmania Stadium.
Mr Albanese was speaking with SEN Radio about plans for a Tasmanian AFL team and a request for Federal Government funding to build a new stadium at Macquarie Point on Hobart’s waterfront.
Mayor Gibson said he agreed wholeheartedly with Mr Albanese’s opinion that AFL games should continue to be played in both the north and south of the State in future.
“Part of the business case as well has to look at the development of the Launceston ground,” Mr Albanese told SEN Radio listeners.
“But you would need, I think, to make sure games are played in the north as well as the south.”
Mr Albanese said the AFL needed to “do their bit” for the stadium plans, as the Federal Government would also have to juggle funds for an upgrade at UTAS Stadium should the 19th license bid be successful.
Mayor Gibson said it was the Council’s hope that the proposal to upgrade UTAS Stadium would be included in any funding package delivered to the State by the Albanese Government.
“There is already $65 million committed by the State Government to increase the seating capacity of UTAS Stadium to around 22,000 — with that work expected to start later this year,” Mayor Gibson said.
“Our business case includes a request for Federal Government funding in the vicinity of an additional $65 million to increase the seated capacity well beyond that figure so that we would be in a prime position to host those larger-scale, blockbuster AFL games one day.”
Mayor Gibson said that the State Government had indicated its continuing support for more content at UTAS Stadium, including AFL, AFLW, first-class cricket, A League matches and music concerts.
“The Council will also continue to offer event attraction funding to deliver new content to the stadium in the future,” Mayor Gibson said.
A memorandum of understanding is currently being negotiated between the Council and the State Government to establish the mutual roles and responsibilities for the Stadium moving forward, Mayor Gibson said.
In December last year, Councillors voted to begin a process to transfer ownership of University of Tasmania Stadium to the State Government through the recently established authority, Stadiums Tasmania.
At the last State election, then-Premier Peter Gutwein announced plans to establish the statutory authority to oversee the management of Tasmania’s major sporting facilities, including UTAS Stadium, the Silverdome and Blundstone Arena.
The legislation to establish the authority was passed by Parliament earlier this year.
Ultimately, Stadiums Tasmania will be responsible for the ownership, management, and capital development of the State’s major public stadiums, under the direction of a skills-based board.
Before a transfer formally takes place, a period for public comment will occur and any objections will be considered by the Council.
UTAS Stadium is commonly regarded as having one of the best AFL playing surfaces in the country, and hosts a wide range of sporting, entertainment and community events.