Tasmania’s north-south divide has held back its sporting aspirations on a number of occasions, but maybe the solution lies in Canberra.
As long as the north-south divide persists it will always hold back Tasmania’s attempts to have an AFL team.
One solution to this would be to build a new stadium halfway between Hobart and Launceston, preferably with large areas for cars to park like there were at Waverly.
But without a major population centre in between it seems unlikely, so if you want to build a new stadium there you need to build a new city.
This situation is similar to what happened when Sydney and Melbourne had a difference of opinion over which should be the Australian capital. The end result was Canberra.
So if you use a new stadium as a catalyst to build a new city then you could also move the Tasmanian state parliament there as well.
This city would effectively be Tasmania’s version of Canberra and would be located equidistant from Hobart, Launceston and the east coast with the central highlands just to the west.
Like Canberra it could be well planned from the start with things like 4-5 story housing, cycle highways, bus rapid transit and so on.
With liveability and lifestyle a focus throughout the design it won’t be hard to attract players wanting to live there.
Not only would the city unite Tasmania through sport but it could also help to unite Tasmania politically as well.
The city could be named after a notable Tasmanian such as Errol Flynn, David Foster, Peter Cundall, Elizabeth Blackburn or David Boon.
I’d call the place ‘Boonie Stadium’.
As for the cost of a stadium I think it’s manageable, even for Tasmania.
Cost if paid in full by Tasmania
30,000 seat stadium = up to $100 million
$100 million divided by 500,000 people = $200 each
$200 spread over 20 years = $10 per year per person
Alternatively the Tasmanian government could raise the money through “value capture” on newly constructed properties in the new city.
There are good examples of affordable stadiums from which to choose:
Central Coast Stadium (20,000 seats) – $42 million in today’s money
Dolphin Oval, Brisbane (10,000 seats) – Around $15 million
Hobart Rectangular Stadium (proposed) – Up to $40 million
Augsburg Arena (30,000 seats) – Around $75 million
Rugby League Park, Christchurch (18,000 seats) – NZ$30 million
QSAC (48,500 seats) – relocatable stands, cheap as chips.
Most of the above stadiums are rectangular but I’m sure the same building system could be adapted to an oval stadium if required.
The last two in particular are very interesting.
Rugby League Park in Christchurch was designed in six months and built in under 100 days for just NZ$30 million.
The design of QSAC means that you could either take the stands from there to Tasmania or build something similar at low cost.
The AFL has spent hundreds of millions on the Suns and the Giants with very little to show for it.
Giants supporters were outnumbered by Bulldogs fans in their own stadium during a semi-final for goodness sake!
And what are the Suns good for? Absolutely nothing.
With the Saints now wanting to play one match in Hobart and another in Launceston, Tasmania will be propping up three Melbourne teams.
But whenever Tasmania ask the AFL if they can have a team of their own, the AFL just look back and say ‘Computer says no’.
It would be much better for the league and for the sport if the Suns and Giants were relocated to Tasmania and Canberra.
And they won’t be outnumbered in their own stadium by Bulldogs supporters if they make a final either.
Then if the AFL want a New Zealand team they can send the Saints to Auckland.
More than a team
If Tasmania had an AFL team it would unify the state, especially if the stadium is built between Hobart and Launceston.
This would become a pilgrimage site allowing people from the north and south to meet and catch up almost like Stonehenge.
Furthermore if a new city was established it could provide new jobs for unemployed people in Tasmania and bring full employment.
In fact Tasmania would only need to create around 10,000 private sector jobs to end unemployment so it’s entirely possible that it could happen.
That would be a great legacy for the AFL.
To quote a popular TV ad, ‘I’d like to see that’.