Council endorses UTAS Stadium future plan
Published on 11 February 2021
The City of Launceston has endorsed its $208 million UTAS Stadium Future Direction Plan at its ordinary meeting today. The plan aims to create a sustainable model for a fit-for-purpose sporting stadium in Launceston.
City of Launceston Mayor Albert van Zetten praised the Council's endorsement of the proposal, and said the journey ahead was particularly exciting.
"There is an exciting future ahead for not only the city, but for all potential users of the stadium if this plan can be realised," Mayor van Zetten said.
"This future direction plan outlines a path forward now, which will encompass a multitude of uses, including research, education, high performance and commercial, as well as for grass roots and elite sports alike."
The plan contains a number of proposals that would see the most significant expansion of Launceston's sporting infrastructure since the 1960s by increasing the stadium's seating capacity to 27,500, the construction of a high-performance sports centre, as well as the development of an adjoining 5000-seat, multi-use indoor sports facility capable of hosting national-level sporting competitions and events.
Mayor van Zetten said that under the proposal, ownership and management of the stadium will move to a Trust governance model, with the Council divesting ownership of the stadium. "The plan also responds to a shortfall in the quantity and quality of indoor sporting venues and associated infrastructure in Launceston," Mayor van Zetten said.
"We know there is a distinct lack of functional and modern sporting infrastructure across Northern Tasmania. There hasn't been an indoor facility of this kind build in the city for three decades.
"And in that time, those sports that use our current facilities - basketball, futsal and the like - have been experiencing tremendous growth in participation. The shortfall in what we can provide the community has been holding our region back and limiting the potential growth of those sports.
"There's no doubt that this proposal will bolster UTAS Stadium's role as Tasmania's premier sporting facility."
Mayor van Zetten said the benefits to the city of a redeveloped UTAS Stadium went far beyond the sporting sphere.
"The jobs that would be created during the construction stage alone would be immense, but it goes much further than that," Mayor van Zetten said.
"Our initial economic impact studies show that a fully upgraded stadium and associated indoor sport and entertainment facility would inject an expected $62 million a year into our economy, in addition to the expected $60 to $70 million direct economic contribution to Launceston and the broader Northern region, which is based on attracting events that are not currently hosted at the stadium including NBL and A League games, large-scale concerts and one-off sporting and cultural events."
In 2019, major events at the Stadium attracted more than 83,000 people — including 63,400 for AFL, and almost 22,000 for Big Bash matches - all of which represented a net economic benefit of more than $30 million to the Northern Tasmanian economy.
"This plan aims to meet growing community needs and expectations in terms of contemporary sporting infrastructure, as well as to cater to the needs of a future AFL team," Mayor van Zetten said.
A 2019 report commissioned by the State Government stated that a Tasmanian AFL team will require access to a high-performance facility and an AFL-standard stadium capable of hosting 27,500 patrons.
The taskforce recommended the redevelopment of UTAS Stadium as the initial primary football venue in the State - but went on to state that the stadium will need to undertake upgrades to provide additional seating capacity.
"The AFL Taskforce report really is one of the key drivers of the Council Plan - to have a stadium capable of hosting high-profile games between powerhouse clubs capable of drawing crowds up to 27,500," Mayor van Zetten said.
Mayor van Zetten said the delivery of the draft plan would rely on the three tiers of government working together to provide the necessary funding.
"Launceston is in a fortunate position to have a City Deal in place and we believe that by all three tiers of government working together, this bold proposal can be achieved. It will no doubt open up many new opportunities for Northern Tasmania," Mayor van Zetten said.
"It is an exciting proposition for the city and while it is does require a significant investment, we believe now is the perfect time to start looking seriously at this proposal."
Mayor van Zetten said the next step was to formally send the plan to the State Government for further consideration, engagement and hopefully implementation.