WHILE many of us remain grumpy at the AFL insistence on the development of a new stadium as a prerequisite for our deserved 19th license for entry into the competition, the reality is that they have and it has become the catalyst for a bigger conversation with an opportunity to have a vision for our future in many more ways than just an AFL team.
The bickering within Tasmania only gives those within the AFL who want to stifle our rightful entry, like Collingwood president Jeff Brown, the excuse to push back by reinforcing the stereotypes that we have been labelled with, unfairly for so long.
But listening to those who have recently seen and experienced similar debates and developments, like Port Adelaide President David Koch, with a bit of vision there is a real opportunity here.
I had the opportunity for a quick chat with David at the national Export Awards recently and he described all of the symptoms we are seeing in Tasmania right now when Adelaide Oval was being considered for redevelopment, it was a huge political football (pun intended).
Now with the magnificent development completed, everyone thinks it is a great idea and talk up all that it brings to the city, things they had once missed out on - everyone wants to attach themselves to the success.
Perth has had a similar experience with Optus Stadium, what chance of hosting an AFL Grand Final without that facility?
There was similar argy bargy in NSW four years ago around stadium redevelopments, there were plenty of critics and politics at that time of the election cycle.
Once the stadium was completed we saw huge speculation in the media and competition among sports as to who would be the first to conduct an event there, with political and other naysayers happy to roll up for tickets.
You could list endlessly the major acts that play around Australia but don’t come to this state due to the lack of facilities, Billy Joel is on in Melbourne this weekend - the city is sold out with thousands coming into the town and making a huge contribution to the local economy.
It’s time Tasmania had a venue that could host those shows and so much more.
There is space at Macquarie Point for the development of more accommodation and further attractions to create a thriving arts, entertainment and sports precinct.
As we know, the case for an AFL team stacks up, the inclusion of a stadium makes it stronger, the stadium also makes the state stronger.
For those worried about football and development in the north and northwest, it should not be forgotten that the plan for the team includes increasing the capacity of UTAS Stadium and developing a home for our women’s team on the north west coast, the plan for a team in Tasmania is truly a statewide one.
Including playing more games in the north than the south.
The continued development of our state economy through proposals such as this will all contribute to the financial capacity to afford other important services around the state.
The visitors who come will all make a contribution just like we do when we have to go to the north island to see something that won’t come to Tasmania because we don’t have the infrastructure to support it.
So it’s really time to lift our eyes to what the vision is.
The Premier has laid that vision out and put Tasmania’s contribution on the table.
There remains one piece of the puzzle, the commonwealth government to step up and ensure that we, a) get the AFL team we should have and, b) deliver a major piece of economic infrastructure for the benefit of the state.
Should Tassie have an AFL team and the infrastructure to support it?
Of course we should.
Mr Albanese, how about it?
It’s time for you to stump up and place the last piece in the puzzle.
—Richard Colbeck is a Liberal Senator for Tasmania