Tasmania is on the verge of having its own team in the AFL, with the federal government reportedly set to announce it will chip in funds for a contentious new stadium.
The league has said the island state’s entry into the competition is contingent on the construction of a $715 million stadium at Hobart’s waterfront.
The project requires $240 million in federal Labor government funding, which Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will announce this weekend, according to multiple media reports.
Mr Albanese has previously said his government views the stadium as part of broader urban renewal at the Macquarie Point site.
If announced, the funding would pave the way for Tasmania to become the AFL’s 19th side.
Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles on Wednesday refused to confirm the funding, saying federal officials were working closely with their Tasmanian counterparts on infrastructure spending.
“Tasmania is obviously a very proud Aussie rules football-playing state. We are very keen to see them continue to play their part in the AFL landscape,” he told Seven’s Sunrise program.
The state Liberal government has pledged $375 million towards the stadium project, which is opposed by state Labor and federal Liberal and independent Tasmanian MPs.
They have argued the money could be better spent on housing and under-pressure essential services.
The state Greens last week pulled their support for Tasmania’s bid because of the stadium requirement.
Tasmania hosts eight AFL games a season under agreements with Hawthorn and North Melbourne to play home fixtures at Launceston’s University of Tasmania Stadium and Hobart’s Blundstone Arena.
The state government will contribute $12 million per year over 12 years, plus $60 million for a high-performance centre, towards a team.
The AFL has committed $360 million over a decade, including $90 million in game development and $33 million for player talent academies.
It will spend $15 million on the stadium.
Tasmania’s bid for a team was originally meant to be voted on by AFL club presidents towards the end of last season.
In March 2022, then-premier Peter Gutwein announced Tasmania would pursue the “aspirational vision” of building a stadium at Hobart’s waterfront.