Below are a list of affordable stadiums that would meet the needs of the A-League, which could also be built at the same time as a new oval stadium for AFL at Macquarie Point, without having to choose one or the other.
North Hobart Oval
The original FC Tasmania bid based their proposal around converting North Hobart Oval into a rectangular configuration by setting up temporary seating on the grass, as well as building a new main grandstand. This would be a cost-effective option at a price of just $12 million to bring it up to A-League standard.
But this raises the issue of whether it would be better to build a new stadium for a similar price with designs such as Xanthi FC Arena, Nuevo Estadio Los Pajaritos and Dolphin Oval to name just a few examples.
Xanthi FC Arena
Starting with Xanthi FC Arena in Greece, this stadium was built in ten months and was finished in 2004 at a price of €6.5 million (A$10.6 million) with a capacity of 7000 seats. The stadium is three-sided and can be expanded easily, but even with its current capacity, it’s good enough for the Super League.
Nuevo Estadio Los Pajaritos
Another small stadium that would be suitable for Tasmania would be Nuevo Estadio Los Pajaritos, which is the home of CD Numancia in Spain. It was built in 1999 and was finished in just six months at a cost of €12 million (A$19.6 million) with a capacity of just under 9000 seats.
Here in Australia there’s a new stadium in Brisbane which is home to the Redcliffe Dolphins Rugby League Club. It has a capacity of ten thousand with 7000 seats and cost $15 million when completed last year.
Dolphin Oval will also be used by Brisbane Roar for three of their matches in the next A-League season and was popular with fans at their recent FFA Cup match at the same venue.
Stadio Pierluigi Penzo
You don’t even need all the stands to be permanent. For example, Stadio Pierluigi Penzo in Venice has just one permanent main grandstand with the rest all being temporary with capacity ranging from just a few thousand all the way up to 13,400 for Serie A as required. It’s very flexible and it’s a similar configuration to Willows Sports Complex in Townsville.
Stadio Pierluigi Penzo could be the ultimate boutique stadium model for an Australian second division.
Hutt Recreation Ground
Back in 2015, the Wellington Phoenix played three matches at Hutt Recreation Ground by placing temporary seats and lighting towers on all sides of the pitch with a capacity of 9000.
This was highly popular with Nix fans and matches sold out and this could easily be repeated at Bellerive and York Park for minimal price. The installation required just two or three matches to break even, which could easily be covered by holding more matches.
On the island of Sardinia in Italy, local club Cagliari Calcio are playing at a temporary stadium called Sardegna Arena that has 16,000 seats and cost €8 million (A$13.06 million) in 2017.
The temporary stadium is right next to their old one, Stadio Sant’Elia, which was built as an oval athletics stadium and had permanent scaffold seating installed on three sides inside the ground. This could be done at Blundstone without any difficulty if a new stadium is built for the AFL at Macquarie Point.
Italian architecture firm Bear Stadiums have designed a modular stadium system built from cross laminated timber. This has numerous benefits and costs just half as much as concrete and steel construction with a set price of €1500 (A$2450) per seat.
A 10,000-seat stadium would cost €15 million (A$24.5 million) while a 15,000-seat stadium could be built for €22.5 million (A$36.7 million). If you wanted to include a 25,000-seat stadium at Macquarie Point for €37.5 million (A$61.2 million) and a 20,000-seat York Park rebuild for €30 million (A$49 million) as well, it would bring the total to €105 million (A$171 million).
To put this into perspective, a new 15,000-seat rectangular stadium at Cornelian Bay was estimated to cost $165 million. So spending $170 million on four stadiums for about the same price seems like pretty good value.
In the case of a Macquarie Point super stadium, the Bear Stadiums system could still be used, but they could design it so it could be retrofitted for a roof at a later date to keep the initial cost down. The roof itself could also be made of timber as has been done at Walkup Skydome at Northern Arizona University, used for gridiron.
What are the options?
Looking at the stadiums I’ve listed above and taking boutique size into consideration, there are a number of paths that Tasmania could go down.
1. At a minimalist level, they could put temporary seating on York Park and Bellerive, with the latter potentially becoming the home of soccer if a new oval-shaped stadium is built at Macquarie Point.
2. They could build two new rectangular stadiums with one in Hobart and one in Launceston and cancel the new stadium at Macquarie Point.
3. They could build a new stadium at Macquarie Point plus two new rectangular stadiums.
4. They could build a new stadium at Macquarie Point, two new rectangular stadiums in Hobart and Launceston, then do a rebuild of York Park just for good measure.
Tasmania might not have to choose between either supporting the AFL or supporting the A-League as there may be options that would allow them to do both. But Tasmania needs a holistic stadium strategy much like New South Wales’ to guide the process.
As they say in politics, policy on the run is policy underdone.
We find ourselves with another season of the A-League upon us. But more than just a season, we find ourselves at a critical juncture in the game’s history. Years of poor governance and mismanagement set us upon a downward trajectory, but there is a glimmer of hope.