Australia venue to be made fit-for-purpose


Australia Launceston UTAS stadium upgrade Image: City of Launceston & Philp Lighton Architects

The UTAS Stadium in Tasmania, Australia, is likely to be totally overhauled with plans being considered by the City of Launceston. The revamp expenditure will stand at $208 million. Plans are in the offing to create a sustainable model for a fit-for-purpose sporting stadium in Launceston. sources stated that the draft UTAS Stadium Future Direction Plan contains a number of proposals that would see the most significant expansion of Launceston’s sporting infrastructure since the 1960s by increasing the facility’s seating capacity to 27,500, the construction of a high-performance sports center, as well as the development of a 5,000-seat, multiuse indoor sports facility capable of hosting national-level sporting competitions and events and which would sit next to the UTAS Stadium.

The University of Tasmania Stadium (UTAS Stadium), formerly known as York Park, is a major Australian rules football and cricket ground located in Launceston, Tasmania (Australia). The venue has a capacity of almost 20,000 and has been redeveloped several times with the first major revamp in the year 2000 to bring it up to Australian Football League (AFL) standards.

The Future Direction Plan also includes a proposal to move to a Trust governance model, with the Council divesting ownership of the venue to a new Trust, with the support of the Tasmanian Government. sources further pointed out that advising that the draft plan responded to a shortfall in the quantity and quality of indoor sporting venues and associated infrastructure in Launceston, Launceston Mayor Albert van Zetten stated, “This proposal seeks to bolster UTAS Stadium’s role as Tasmania’s premier sporting facility. Since its inception, the UTAS Stadium has been a key economic engine driver in our City.”

The Mayor added, “The sporting events it hosts each year spark regional economic activity through visitors staying in our hotels, eating in our restaurants and spending money in our central business district (CBD) shops.”

In 2019 alone, big-ticket events at the venue (known traditionally as York Park) attracted more than 83,000 people – including 63,400 for AFL, and almost 22,000 for Big Bash matches – all of which represented a net economic benefit of more than $30 million to the Northern Tasmanian economy.

The Australian Football League (AFL) is the pre-eminent and only fully professional men’s competition of Australian rules football. Through the AFL Commission, the AFL also serves as the sport’s governing body, and is responsible for controlling the laws of the game.

The Big Bash League (often abbreviated to BBL or Big Bash) is an Australian professional franchise Twenty20 cricket league which was established in 2011 by Cricket Australia.

Mayor van Zetten further informed that the Future Directions Plan sought to leverage future opportunities for the venue, noting, “This plan aims to meet growing community needs and expectations in terms of contemporary sporting infrastructure, as well as to cater to the needs of a future AFL team.”

A 2019 report commissioned by the Tasmanian Government – AFL Licence Taskforce Business Plan 2019 – pointed out that an AFL team based in the State will require access to an avant-garde facility and an AFL standard arena which will be able to fit in 27,500 patrons.

The Taskforce recommended the redevelopment of UTAS Stadium as the initial primary football venue in the State – but went on to state that significant upgrades will have to be made to the facility to ensure it can pack in more spectators.

Mayor van Zetten added, “The AFL Taskforce report really is one of the key drivers of the Council Plan – to have a stadium capable of hosting high-profile games between powerhouse clubs capable of drawing crowds up to 27,500. The landscape for this type of facility has certainly changed over the past five years or so.”

The Mayor added, “We’ve seen the new Perth Stadium opened at a cost of some $1 billion, through to Victorian State and local Governments injecting more than $300 million into upgrades at GMHBA Stadium in Geelong in recent years.”

Mayor van Zetten said that a lack of functional and modern sporting infrastructure is holding the region back and proving to be a stumbling block in the potential growth of a range of sports and events in Launceston, stating, “This plan includes a number of initiatives that would cement the stadium’s reputation as the jewel in Tasmania’s sporting crown. It is a multifaceted proposal which would see the stadium brought up to a contemporary standard in order to host more national-grade sporting events and to provide important additions to our City in terms of new indoor sports facilities.”

Mayor van Zetten said the delivery of the draft plan would depend on the three tiers of Government working in tandem to provide the requisite financial support.

He continued, “Launceston is fortunate to have a City deal in place and if this plan is endorsed by the Council, we would look to negotiate with all the parties involved to secure funding for this project, which we believe will open up many new opportunities for Northern Tasmania. Not only will we have the capacity to host high-profile football teams, or even a Tasmanian AFL side, we will also be in a position to broaden our indoor sports and events offerings in ways that have not previously been possible.”

The Mayor concluded on a positive note, “With three additional indoor courts for basketball, as well as the ability to seat up to 5,000 people for major events such as the National Basketball League (NBL) games, or even indoor concerts, the facilities proposed under the Future Directions Plan would be at a national standard.”

The National Basketball League (NBL) is a men’s professional basketball league in Oceania (a geographic region that includes Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia). It is currently composed of 9 teams: 8 in Australia and 1 in New Zealand. It is the premier professional men’s basketball league in Australia and New Zealand.

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