Northern AFL games `vital'


TASMANIA'S tourism industry says securing AFL games in the North of the state must be central to discussions about growing football on the island.

The Premier is engaged in ongoing meetings with league and club officials to develop the state's strategy for the sport beyond 2016.

Speculation has grown that Launceston could lose a Hawthorn home game under the terms of a new deal.

It is understood the AFL is also pushing to boost the number of matches North Melbourne plays in the state in coming seasons, in a strategy that would include seeing the side play three games in Launceston as well as in Hobart.

But a spokeswoman for Premier Will Hodgman said the government was committed to hosting four Hawthorn games and two North Melbourne games a year while it worked with the AFL to get a Tasmanian team up and running.

Tourism Industry Council Tasmania chief executive Luke Martin said regardless of the home side at Launceston matches, football in Northern Tasmania must be protected under any new deal.

``The big picture in the long term should be based on securing the most possible Launceston games against the broadest mix of visiting clubs,'' Mr Martin said.

``That needs to happen regardless of whether the home side is one or two interstate teams or our own team based here in Tasmania.''

He said while the Hawthorn sponsorship deal had been exceptional for Tasmania, the state must be prepared to look beyond club loyalties to secure strong economic outcomes.

``Our main aim needs to be getting the biggest possible crowds four or five times a year into Launceston to fill the grandstands and the city,'' he said.

``Whatever develops out of that _ whether that be hosting additional games in Hobart or creating a single team _ is very much secondary from our perspective, and shouldn't distract from that focus.''


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