North, South united for more AFL games

SUPPORTERS of Tasmania's two AFL venues have united in a call for more top-flight fixtures in the state.

Representatives of the Launceston and Hobart city councils stood shoulder-to-shoulder on the eve of last night's preseason game between the state's AFL tenants calling for a fifth Hawthorn game at Aurora Stadium and a third North Melbourne game at Bellerive Oval.

With a state election three weeks away, Launceston Mayor Albert van Zetten and Hobart Alderman Marti Zucco want Tasmania's major political parties to detail how they see AFL football here progressing.

Their call comes a day after Hawthorn chief executive Stuart Fox guaranteed that the reigning premier would not walk out on its adopted state unless forced to by either of the other parties in the 12-year-old arrangement - the AFL or state government.

The aldermen agreed that AFL football was a major driver of Tasmania's economy, and games at both ends of the state could co- exist.

Alderman van Zetten stressed that a fifth game in Launceston need not be a Hawthorn home match.

"If Hawthorn refuses the option of playing a fifth game at Aurora, the contract conditions enable negotiations with other AFL clubs to play matches here instead," he said. "AFL is big business for the Launceston economy, injecting some $58 million into Northern Tasmania.

"We have a first-class AFL venue and we are seeking more events to utilise Aurora Stadium.

"Should Hawthorn choose not to take up the option of playing a fifth game as an away match at Aurora Stadium, the council will be looking to work with the next state government to attract another club to Aurora."

Alderman Zucco said Hobart AFL games drew North Melbourne fans from around Tasmania.

"The speculation of a third North Melbourne game needs to be placed on the agenda sooner than later," he said.

"The economic benefits of AFL football in Tasmania are clear.

"Not only does it attract new visitors to Tasmania, it provides Tasmanians with a chance to see AFL teams in action on their home turf."

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