Tasmania should learn from what Wisconsin did with the Green Bay Packers if it wants its own AFL team, according to football icon Kevin Sheedy.
The Green Bay Packers are the only community-owned franchise in American professional sports and in 2014 had 360,584 stockholders.
The club’s broad community support and non-profit structure has kept the team in Green Bay in spite of it being such a small market.
AFL visionary and master coach Sheedy was asked to weigh in on the issue which plagues Tasmania despite it being such a strong football state.
He said it would take the whole state to get a Tasmanian AFL team.
Sheedy, who was in Devonport to speak at the opening of the new Bunnings store, said “you need half a million Tasmanians to own [a Tasmanian] club if you are ever going to operate it successfully.”
“Because that means you’ve got half a million members and that’s pretty powerful.
“You have got to produce an economic rationale which the AFL and everybody else in football would say ‘gee that’s pretty exciting’.”
Sheedy said there were a lot of people in Tasmania who support other AFL teams.
“If you want a Tasmanian club you have to be a member of a Tasmanian club,” he said.
Sheedy said Green Bay was about the size of Hobart and had about 70,000 people in the stadium they built.
“They have been to Super Bowls, they’ve won Super Bowls because of the people power of Green Bay, of Wisconsin, which is no different to Tasmania.”
In regard to Tasmania’s recent lack of AFL draftees he said the state had dropped the ball with its youth development plan.
“When you pick the greatest Tasmanian players they’re the best of the best; and you’ve lost that.That means you’ve dropped the baton...”, he said.
Sheedy praised ex-Coaster Brendon Gale for how the Richmond president turned the club he once played for around to win the flag.
He said Richmond with all its strong Tasmanian connections should have been the club that ran the state.