Australian PM Anthony Albanese has announced a $240 million federal contribution for a Hobart waterfront stadium at Macquarie Point.
This followed a $65 million commitment for Launceston’s York Park upgrades and is a key pillar of Tasmania’s bid for an AFL licence which is expected to get the green light as soon as Monday.
Tasmania’s government pledged $375 million to the $715 million project, with $15 million from the AFL and $85 million in “land sale or lease borrowings for commercial use”.
This left a $240m gap for the commonwealth, sparking heated political debate in Tasmania and federally.
Albanese said the funding would support an “urban development project generating immense economic activity for Hobart and the state,” with 4200 construction-phase jobs.
“This is about revitalising this site and boosting economic activity,” he said.
Albanese added that the “updated plan” would involve consultation with First Nations groups, the local council, and RSL Tasmania. It would include social housing and commercial and recreational spaces, though no further details on housing numbers or business centre integration were provided.
No new information on the stadium’s design, roof, or potential to host other sports like cricket was shared.
Tasmanian timber is ready for the challenge
The news has been welcomed by the timber industry.
In an opinion piece authored by Nick Steel, CEO of the Tasmanian Forest Products Association (published in full as a stand-alone article on Wood Central) Nick Steel spoke of the transformational opportunities arising from the project.
“This type of investment in our state would connect us all to this project. Capturing the best that Tasmania produces in a public asset for all our state,” he said.
“Through the state funded Tasmanian timber promotions campaign and the Fine Timber Tasmania chain of custody scheme, the local industry is well positioned to deliver on major project works.
“If you want to see how Tasmanian timber can be used for dramatic effect at a sporting venue, you don’t have to look too far. The recent refurbishment of My State Bank Arena embraces the quality and beauty of Tasmanian timber.”
My State Arena is the state’s largest indoor entertainment venue and the home of the Tasmanian Jumping Jacks, Australia’s newest basketball franchise.
The project was recently featured by Tasmanian Timber with local timbers extensively used throughout corporate facilities, walls, ceilings and court.
The Tasmanian Wood Encouragement Policy was launched by the Minister for Resources on July 21, 2017, and has been incorporated as a procurement policy within the Tasmanian government Treasurer’s Instructions.
The policy ensures sustainably sourced wood is fully considered, where feasible, in Tasmanian government procurement, particularly for new buildings and refurbishment projects.
Given that lack of detail, Mr Albanese was asked who would pay if the development went over the $715 million estimation.
It’s a good question.
According to Channel 9’s ‘Footy Classified’ cost blowouts are inevitable.
Construction of Perth’s Optus Stadium blew out from an original budget of $600 million (in 2011) to $1.8 billion in 2018; the Adelaide Oval redevelopment from less than $300m (2010) to $565m (2013) while the new Olympic Stadium in Brisbane has already blown out from $1 billion to $2.5 billion before the redevelopment has even started.
“When something happens like this, you can look for, ‘What happens if there’s another global pandemic? What happens if a range of things occur,’ or you can be optimistic,” he said.
“A lot of work has gone into this urban redevelopment project. A lot of work. Costings have been done.
“Our contribution is capped as the Commonwealth contribution always is for something like that, but I have confidence the Tasmanian government will be able to get this project right.”
The stadium’s inclusion has been essential for the AFL’s licence approval process.
With the latest commitment, it is expected that a decision on the new licence will be made this week.