Hobart Stadium plans to be fast-tracked



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Government commits to new Tasmania stadium with funding Image: AFL

The Tasmanian Government (Australia) is pushing for the new $715 million Hobart Stadium and redevelopment of the surrounding area to be fast-tracked.

‘The Canberra Times’ stated that the Macquarie Point development will be nominated as a major project under legislation allowing an independent expert panel to assess the masterplan, rather than the local Council.

The Tasmanian Planning Commission used the same process to approve the Bridgewater Bridge project (Tasmania’s largest ever transport infrastructure project).

A new arts, entertainment, and sporting precinct with a stadium at its core will be an important multipurpose entertainment venue which will provide significant economic, health, social, and community benefits not just for Hobart but for the whole State of Tasmania (island State of Australia).

The Macquarie Point is a 9.3-hectare site near Hobart’s waterfront and the central business district (CBD). In 2021, the Macquarie Point Development Corporation announced the successful tenderer for the development of part of the site into visitor and residential accommodation.

Hobart (Australia)-based the Tasmanian Planning Commission is an independent statutory authority that reviews, advises on and determines a range of land use and development matters.

‘The Canberra Times’ further stated that the State Development Minister Guy Barnett said the process took politics out of the decision-making process and allowed projects to be assessed on their own merits – “Tasmanians can be assured that if declared a major project that there would be an independent process that is rigorous and which provides genuine opportunities for community engagement.”

The Government says the process still allows for public input and the Planning Minister will consult with a range of interested parties.

The controversial stadium development will get a $240 million funding injection from the Federal Government, while the Tasmanian Government will pitch in $375 million.

The remainder will come from the AFL and commercial land sales.

Melbourne (Australia)-based the Australian Football League (AFL) is the pre-eminent and only fully professional competition of Australian Rules football. It was originally named the Victorian Football League and was founded in 1896 as a breakaway competition from the Victorian Football Association, with its inaugural season in 1897.

Opponents of the development argue the choice of site is poor and the money would be better spent on housing amid a growing number of homeless people and financially stretched households in the island State.
 

Roof Canned

‘Fox Sports Australia’ stated that previous plans submitted to a State Government inquiry suggested that a fixed roof was to be part of the proposed structure, but the roof has now been canned from the final design.

‘Fox Sports Australia’ quoted WIN News Tasmania’s Brent Costelloe as stating, “We’re going to have around a 23,000-seat stadium … I’m not sure it’s going to have a roof, that’s the other mail I have which could be interesting. We heard recently that you can’t play Test cricket under a roof, that’s part of the International Cricket Council (ICC) rules. We’re going to have to play Test cricket at this venue to make it viable. They were talking about a Perspex permanent roof at one point, a retractable roof is going to cost you $300 million more. Again, why do we need a roof? I think part of the beauty of the footy in the middle of Winter is going and getting rugged up and keeping warm. It’d be a nice luxury, but do we need it? We’ve got one stadium in Australia with a roof, the 53,359-capacity Marvel Stadium in Docklands, so not sure it’s required, to be honest.”

The Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff and predecessor Peter Gutwein both made it clear their support was contingent on the venue being suitable for more than just football.

A Tasmanian Parliamentary inquiry into the process around the stadium unpacked the issue, with Cricket Tasmania head honcho Dominic Baker telling the inquiry that the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) conditions for international cricket were “pretty clearly outlined”.

Dubai (UAE)-based the International Cricket Council (ICC) is the global governing body of cricket. It was founded as the Imperial Cricket Conference in 1909 by representatives from Australia, England and South Africa. It was renamed as the International Cricket Conference in 1965, and took up its current name in 1987.

Baker also told the inquiry that an alternative expansion of Hobart’s Blundstone Arena, in the residential Eastern suburb of Bellerive, was not feasible owing to the impact on nearby homes.

The inquiry in the month of March heard that the roof concept was devised by the State Government, and was not a precondition set by the AFL on support for a proposed stadium.

Kim Evans, Secretary of the Department of State Growth, told the inquiry that the roof idea was first floated by the former Premier of Tasmania, Peter Gutwein – “We saw that as a particularly important differentiator of our stadium from other stadiums in the country, particularly when you start to think about it in the broader context in terms of the other uses, including concerts and including the sorts of conference and other events. It makes sense that we have a stadium so, we have deliberately focused on a stadium with a roof.”

The State Liberal Government has pledged $375 million towards a new stadium while the State Labor Opposition and State Greens oppose the plan on the basis of cost.

Critics of the stadium argue that the 20,000-capacity Bellerive Oval in Bellerive and Launceston’s 19,500-capacity York Park are currently fit for purpose, and that a new stadium is an unnecessary cost in the context of Tasmania’s ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

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