The forum - Hopes still alive for a State team

FROM a player and spectator perspective, Tasmania's position in the big league of football is in great shape. On the back of hosting the reigning premier for the 2008 season, the Hawthorn Football Club wants to renew its five-year contract with the Tasmanian Government, now in its third year.The State's AFL team bid is still also alive and well. The AFL has given the Gold Coast the go-ahead for a team in the 2011 AFL competition, with the league's 17th national licence. AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou says the AFL is still committed to teams from the Gold Coast and western Sydney, but significantly said in Launceston yesterday that Tasmania would be next in line for a licence. This could be sooner rather than later if the western Sydney bid is ultimately unsuccessful. The western Sydney bid will probably be resolved one way or the other by about 2012 or 2013, which means that a successful Tasmanian bid for an AFL team could be a reality by the time the next Hawks contract is up for renewal. It all looks promising, especially given the AFL announcement yesterday that it will invest more funds into Aurora Stadium. So far the AFL has contributed only $600,000 in cold hard cash for the stadium out of a total of $23 million. A promise of more funds is a good start and opens the way for greater State and Federal Government involvement. Given that the two governments and the AFL benefit politically and financially from the success of big games played at the stadium, a hand out for more funding is not that big an ask. On the Gold Coast, the Carrara Stadium is costing a cool $130 million to redevelop, but Aurora doesn't need it. It would seem odd if more funding for Aurora was actually not forthcoming. AFL team bid WHILE we may have greater confidence in a solid future for AFL footy in Tasmania we will have to rely on blind faith in the ability of the State Government to manage the AFL bid, mainly because the Government has refused to reveal the details, citing commercial in-confidence factors. This is stretching the friendship, given the taxpayer dollars involved. - BARRY PRISMALL, deputy editor

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