Call to check economic benefits of AFL deals

THE economic benefits of hosting AFL games in Tasmania is likely to be re-assessed to inform the state government's negotiations with clubs about any new sponsorship deals.

The Tourism Industry Council Tasmania has questioned the value of the state's sponsorship arrangement with the Hawthorn Football Club and the state-owned TT-Line's deal with North Melbourne. It has also called for an independent cost-benefit analysis to be conducted.

The call was supported by leading economist Saul Eslake, who said it would be sensible to test the value of the deals compared to alternatives.

Mr Eslake, who was a member of the taskforce advocating for Tasmania to get a team of its own, said that should remain the ultimate objective.

In 2007 a report into the economic value of the state's $3.5 million a year sponsorship deal with Hawthorn, which has led to four premiership games being played in Launceston a season, found it injected more than $7 million into the state's economy.

TICT chief executive Luke Martin said there was evidence to suggest that figure had diminished as the relationship between Hawthorn and Tasmania had evolved with more locals attending the football and less mainland supporters flying in.

"I'd like our industry to take a strategic look at the best value for money. We need to take a bit of the emotion out of it and look at it from an economic activity point of view," Mr Martin said.

"We should be saying as a state, what do we want? Not just accept what we are given."

Premier Will Hodgman yesterday said he supported the arrangement with Hawthorn but indicated a fresh analysis would be needed.

"There's no doubt that football in Launceston and indeed in Southern Tasmania delivers great economic and social benefit but, of course, it's important to understand as best we can the extent of that benefit when we enter into future negotiations."

The state's sponsorship deal with Hawthorn, which includes the "Tasmania" brand on the players jumpers, does not expire for another two seasons but negotiations are expected to get underway mid-next year.

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