City of Launceston Mayor, Danny Gibson says a $65 million Tasmanian Government expansion to the University of Tasmania Stadium should allay fears that the facility would be overlooked if the state gets its own AFL team.
Mayor Gibson said he was delighted to see that planning was well underway for the redevelopment of UTAS Stadium, which would in turn improve the amenity of the ground as well as boosting the seating capacity for the fans, which has always been a priority from the Council’s perspective.
“It’s really important that we see a mix of infrastructure being delivered for our community – infrastructure that delivers what we need to continue to grow and prosper, and one of those infrastructure projects we as a Council see as a priority is the redevelopment of the University of Tasmania Stadium,” Mayor Gibson said.
“This announcement will go a long way to reassuring everyone that there is a solid commitment from the State Government to UTAS Stadium, which will ultimately see the stadium’s seating capacity increase to 24,000.
“There’s still much more that can be achieved and we remain hopeful that the Federal Government will support this project with its own announcement in due course.”
The Tasmanian Government has also announced the signing of an extension to Hawthorn’s contract to play four home-and-away matches in Launceston through until the end of the 2025 season.
“Obviously we’re delighted that the Tasmanian Hawks will continue to play games in Launceston – it’s certainly tremendous for the thousands of Tasmanian footy fans who support AFL in Launceston,” Mayor Gibson said.
“Hawthorn has a wonderful affiliation with Launceston Tasmania more broadly for the past 22 years and it’s particularly heartening to know that love affair will continue for at least another three years.”
Hawthorn will play its first home-and-away match in Launceston in round three on Saturday, April 1 against North Melbourne.
“The impact AFL football has had on the city’s economy over the past two decades had been profound,” Mayor Gibson said.
“We know that Hawthorn playing four, five games a year in Launceston for the past two decades has been incredible for our city on many levels, particularly from an economic and social perspective.
“Each and every game brings vitality and vibrancy to our CBD. They inject upwards of $30 million into our economy every year, at a time when the tourism sector is traditionally slower due to the cooler weather in Tasmania.
“As Mayor, I talk to many business owners – whether they’re cafe owners or restauranteurs or someone who runs a bar or hotel. They all benefit greatly when the AFL is in town.
“Some are quite up front and say they never really understood the importance of these Hawthorn games until they opened a business or moved into the CBD.”
Mayor Gibson said he was looking forward to continuing to work with the recently appointed Stadiums Tasmania chair Michael Malouf, while he will also meet with newly elected Hawthorn president, Andy Gowers, today to discuss the ongoing relationship between the Council and the AFL club.
He said the Council would continue to work with the State Government around finalising a Memorandum of Understanding regarding future content at the Stadium.