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Controversial Hobart AFL stadium could generate $226 million a year for Tasmanian economy

Controversial Hobart AFL stadium could generate $226 million a year for Tasmanian economy
September 6, 2023

A newly released cost-benefit analysis of Hobart’s new AFL stadium has found it could add $2.26 billion to Tasmania’s economy in its first 10 years operation.

The report, Economic Benefits to Tasmania from the Introduction of a Tasmanian AFL Team and a New Stadium in Hobart at Macquarie Point, authored by Tasmanian Russell Hanson, former Finance Director of FitzGerald’s department stores and Chief Executive of The Wilderness Society, has assessed the new stadium project following criticism that the venue would be a financial burden on the state.

Commenting on the study, using methodology from consultants PwC, which previously examined economic benefits of having AFL teams Hawthorn play games in Launceston, Hanson advised in a statement “these benefits make it quite clear that the new stadium is no ‘dud deal’ as has been claimed. It is not a 20-year loss of $306.2 million as has been claimed; it will generate additional spend by visitors to Tasmania across the whole state in excess of $2 billion over the 20 years.

“This huge economic benefit is further demonstrated on examination of the PwC analysis of the Hawthorn games in Launceston and applying the same methodology to the new stadium, the economic returns are substantially positive, ongoing and an opportunity this State can’t afford to lose.”

The report also showed a "worst-case" scenario, by calculating all of the “common negative claims by the naysayers”, which revealed the new stadium would still generate a total of $169.96 million per year.

Saul Eslake, Australian economist and Vice-Chancellor's Fellow at the University of Tasmania, backed the Hanson report, saying he hoped those against the stadium could now see what the 23,000-seat roofed venue could achieve.

Eslake noted “even in the event of these presumed 'worse case' outcomes, the 'deal' with the AFL produces net economic benefits for Tasmania.

"I think you (Hanson) have constructed a powerful case, and I hope that other readers to whom it may be directed, who have had understandable concerns about the 'business case', find it similarly persuasive.”

The Tasmanian Liberal Government has driven the construction of 23,000-seat roofed waterfront stadium in Hobart that will be the home of an new AFL team that will enter the competition in 2028.

While securing $240 million from the Federal Government and with the new venue being a condition of the AFL granting a licence to Tasmania, the project has generated significant opposition.

However, it has been delivered on the same day as a joint Parliamentary Committee tasked with scrutinising the proposed new venue found there has been no evidence to back the key assumptions underpinning the business case for the stadium so far, including the number of expected events.

In its interim report on Wednesday, the Parliamentary Committee found the Tasmanian Government did not consult with RSL Tasmania, the Vietnam Veterans Association, Hobart City Council or TasWater until after cabinet made a decision to lock in the site.

The RSL has raised concerns about the stadium potentially overshadowing the nearby cenotaph, while TasWater runs a sewage treatment plant on the site.

The committee said many assumptions in previous reports, including by consultants PwC (in its 2022 report into the economic impact) and MI Global, were not comprehensive or detailed enough to enable a meaningful cost-benefit analysis.

It advised “many of the assumptions contained in the various reports provided to government, including the PwC and MI Global Partners reports, are not comprehensive or detailed to enable a meaningful cost-benefit analysis to be determined.

“These reports have significant gaps - for example, the absence of assumptions related to opportunity costs and implausible event attraction details.”

A PwC report claimed the stadium would attract 28 new events annually - seven of which would be NRL matches, which have not been played in Tasmania since 2014.

Images: Artist’s impressions of the stadium planned to host Tasmania’s promised AFL team in Hobart.

About the author

Nigel Benton

Co-founder/Publisher, Australasian Leisure Management

Nigel Benton is the co-founder and Publisher of Australasian Leisure Management, Australia and New Zealand’s only magazine for professionals in all areas of the leisure industry. Having established the magazine in 1997, shortly after his relocation to Australia, he has managed its readership rising to over 11,500 and its acceptance as the industry journal for professionals in aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues.

In 2020, he launched the new Asian Leisure Business website.

Among a range of published works and features, his comments on a Blog (blogspot) from 2007 to 2011, when this website went live in its current form, may be interesting to reflect back on.

Click here to connect with him via LinkedIn.

Read more from this author

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