AFL fans will know whether Tasmania becomes the 19th team in the competition by the end of this month, Fox Footy’s Jon Ralph believes.
Just a week after reports the Tassie bid had stalled over exactly who would fund a new stadium, Ralph said there’s confidence that a “new vision” for the stadium would broker the 19th license for 2027 and beyond.
Under new estimates, the venue would cost less than $500 million – rather than the initial $750m – and could once again change attitudes towards the potential new club.
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“There will be a vote by the end of the month,” Ralph said on Fox Footy.
“The Tasmanian Government they can secure funding for a stadium believe that’s less than $500m.
“The feasibility study that’s underway with the current taskforce and government won’t be completed by the end of April, but they believe if you have a $500m bill, it would be dollar for dollar.
“Federal government, State government, there’d be some private partnership investment, with a hotel, convention centre, parking of course which would attract some visitors.
“My understanding is the other work streams are basically done, basically ticked off. None of them are game changers. The stadium is the massive issue.
“So the plan will go to the AFL committee, let’s call it mid-month. It will go back to the presidents to go back their own boards, and then presidents like Jeff Kennett will come to a consensus view.
“We will have a decision either way.”
The new stadium would be based upon the Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville, which was built for $295m two years ago.
For that venue, $140m came from State funding while a further $100m was provided from the Federal government.
Ralph said Tasmania’s stadium would also include a Perspex roof, like Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium, that would not be retractable.
“We are at the most official, the most important month in the history of the AFL in Tasmania,” Ralph said.
Fox Footy’s Nick Riewoldt, who is a Tasmanian AFL taskforce member, said now was the time for the AFL to choose a side on the 19th licence.
“Now its incumbent on the AFL to, if they strongly believe Tasmania deserve a 19th license, to lobby that in front of the presidents,” he said.
“We know it’s mixed, some (club presidents) put their flags in the ground before the report had even been tabled.”
The Colin Carter report, on Tasmania’s bid for an AFL team, found the feasibility “stacks up”.
“Gillon McLachlan has said to them, funding will be conditional as long as you are turning sod on the new stadium by the time the team runs out for its first game, that’s acceptable,” Ralph added.
“Before finals, we’ll know (if they get a license).”