Hobart’s proposed inner-city AFL stadium backed by WA tourism boss as debate continues

The Tasmanian government has found an ally in its push for a new inner-city stadium, with an interstate tourism chief labeling the construction of a new stadium in his state as an “economic game-changer”.

Western Australia’s tourism council chief Evan Hall said the construction of the $1.5 billion stadium, which opened in 2018, had been a cash cow for the state rather than a drain on the taxpayer.

“The stadium is to the WA tourism industry what a mine is to the resources sector, or a port is to the trade sector,” Mr Hall said.

“We’ve seen a huge dividend from the stadium. It’s not seen as an expense, it’s seen as economic infrastructure like the port that brings in the cash for the facilities the state needs.”

Mr Hall met with Premier Jeremy Rockliff, Sports Minister Nic Street and tourism council chief Luke Martin today as debate rages among Tasmanians over the state government’s proposed $750 million stadium at Hobart’s Macquarie Point.

The fate of the state’s bid for an AFL team hinges on its construction after the league deemed a new inner-city roofed stadium as a prerequisite to Tasmania being granted the 19th license.

A Hawthorn AFL player holds the ball with his right hand as he prepares to kick it against North Melbourne.
A Tasmanian team would likely enter the league in 2027, should the license be granted.(AAP: Julian Smith)

Large sections of the community, as well as some federal Liberals, state Labor and the Greens have vehemently opposed the idea, with most citing the potential state spending of $375 million as unacceptable.

Mr Hall said Perth stadium had acted as an economic driver which had largely benefited his state.

“The revenue has flowed through rates that local businesses pay, through payroll tax that businesses pay because it’s a huge employer, even for gaming taxes at the nearby casino and obviously the GST,” he said.

“It’s like discovering a whole new country of people who want to visit you.

“If Perth Stadium was a country, it’d be fourth on our list after the UK, Singapore and Malaysia in terms of the number of visitors we get to WA.”

Other states are seeing a positive impact

The merits of a Hobart stadium have been questioned by Tasmanians unhappy at the potential use of hundreds of millions of dollars on a new venue, at a site already earmarked for an Antarctic science precinct and an Aboriginal truth and reconciliation park.

But in other states, inner-city stadiums are making a positive economic impact.

A 2019 economic impact report prepared by Deloitte found Perth stadium and its precinct had generated an additional $129.7 million of gross state product following its construction and first year of operation.

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