York Park Stadium Phase I upgrade plans


Tasmania UTAS stadium upgrade Image: UTAS Stadium

Plans for a $65 million upgrade of the York Park Stadium in Launceston (Australia) were unveiled recently – but the second and third stages of the project remain unfunded.

‘ABC News’ stated that the upgrade will include a new Eastern Stand, improved playing facilities and a new entertainment precinct.

The 21,000-capacity York Park is a sports ground in the Inveresk and York Park Precinct, Launceston, Australia. Holding 19,000 people, the York Park is known commercially as the University of Tasmania Stadium and was formerly known as the Aurora Stadium under a previous naming rights agreement signed with Aurora Energy in 2004.

‘ABC News’ further stated that it will provide an extra 1,000 seats and will feature improved facilities for players and coaches and better food and beverage outlets.

Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff said it would provide “More contemporary infrastructure to take us forward. It’s been many, many years since a significant upgrade of this magnitude and it’s very timely and secures footy for the North.”

Construction will start later this year and is expected to be finished in early 2025.

The funding was announced last year as part of a Tasmanian Liberal election promise.

Despite the boost, the second and third stages of the $200 million project remain unfunded.

Rockcliff said he is continuing to lobby for the additional $65 million needed from the Federal Government so that Stage Two can go ahead.

Added Rockliff, “The other $65 million we continue to advocate for when it comes to the Federal Government. I’ve had positive discussions with the Prime Minister (Anthony Albanese) on that as well.”

Launceston Mayor Danny Gibson has welcomed the upcoming upgrade – “We know that the temporary structure that will be replaced in Stage One is in need of significant upgrade. And we also know, as was clearly documented in the Carter Report, that the opportunity to increase the number of patrons we can have at the UTAS Stadium will be a significant game changer.”

It’s not the only large-scale project lobbying for funding in Tasmania.

The Tasmanian Government is seeking $240 million from the Federal Government for a stadium to be built at Hobart’s Macquarie Point (parking lot), and talks are underway to increase the capacity of the 5,500-capacity Derwent Entertainment Centre in Tasmania.

Remarked Rockcliff, I’ve had discussions with the Prime Minister, I know that the Prime Minister is enthusiastic about supporting Tasmania. When it comes to the Macquarie Point, it is more than just the Australian Football League (AFL), it is a lot more than just AFL, it is more than a stadium, it’s creating an urban renewal project that all Tasmanians can be very proud of.”

The new deal, however, is contingent on Tasmania being granted an AFL and AFL Women’s (AFLW) license.

The Tasmanian Government had already secured the AFL team – the Hawthorn Football Club – games for the coming season, but the extension would see the club remain in Tasmania until the end of 2025.

The Australian Football League (AFL) is a company operating the premier and fully professional competition of Australian Rules football and the AFL Women’s and other competitions.

AFL Women’s is Australia’s national semi-professional Australian Rules football league for female players. The first season of the league in February and March 2017 had eight teams. The league expanded to 10 teams in the 2019 season, 14 teams in 2020 and 18 teams in 2022.

The Hawthorn Football Club, nicknamed the Hawks, is a professional Australian Rules football club based in Mulgrave, Victoria, that competes in the Australian Football League (AFL). The club was founded in 1902 in the inner-East suburb of Hawthorn, making it the youngest Victorian-based team in the AFL. The York Park Stadium serves as their residence.

The Hawks will play four regular season matches and one pre-season match in Launceston per year.

Rockcliff further stated, “We’ve had a great relationship with Hawthorn. This is more than just footy, this is about ensuring that both Tasmania and indeed the Hawthorn Football Club benefit mutually.”

Hawthorn President Andy Gowers welcomed the contract extension -“The partnership between our club and the State and indeed Northern Tasmania has been such a positive one for everybody involved. We love coming and playing in Launceston and we also support Tasmania’s push for its own team. We very much welcome Tassie having its own side and Hawthorn continuing to have a presence in Tasmania.”

AFL Team Push ‘A Debacle’

Labor spokesman Josh Willie said Tasmania still appeared to be a long way away from having an AFL team – “The extension of the Hawthorn deal reflects how far we are away from our own AFL team thanks to the State Government’s debacle over the proposed stadium for Hobart. In February 2021, then-Premier Peter Gutwein wrote to the AFL saying the Tasmanian Government wouldn’t negotiate with Hawthorn or the North Melbourne Football Club for new deals until they received a guarantee on our own team. The AFL said that we would have a decision on our team by August 2022, but we’re still waiting and the whole AFL team has become mired in the stadium issue.”

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