Image: Premier Jeremy Rockliff joins young players as well as AFL honchos Gill McLachlan and Andrew Dillon at North Hobart for the historic announcement (AAP/Loic Le Guilly)
Richmond veteran Jack Riewoldt believes his home state Tasmania can offer something different to entice players and coaches to join the AFL’s latest club.
The island state was on Wednesday awarded the league’s 19th licence and is expected to have a team in the men’s competition in 2028.
Hawthorn captain James Sicily apologised last month after saying there was “not much” happening in Tasmania and he couldn’t imagine living there.
Hobart-born Riewoldt, who was at the licence announcement at North Hobart Oval, said Tasmania could be compared to a location like Geelong.
“There is certainly the type of person who will be attracted to coming down here,” he said.
“I look at arguably one of the best players in the competition at the moment, Jeremy Cameron, who lives on a farm not far out of Geelong.
“There is plenty of farmland not far from the CBD here (Hobart).”
Riewoldt, 34, said he would jump at the chance to be involved with the Tasmanian club.
“That’s the thing Tasmanians will do. They’re littered across the AFL, in many different roles, and AFLW,” he said.
“They’ll be putting their hands up to give back to the state that has given them so much. The formation will be an exciting process.”
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said plans for a training base would develop in coming months and a community campaign to choose the club’s name would be launched later this year.
He said Tasmania would likely enter the VFL in about 2025 as a precursor to its AFL start, while a date for an AFLW outfit was being worked on.
He brushed off concerns Tasmania would not be an attractive destination for young players.
“There’s been legitimate concerns historically but this is a different city, a different state,” he said.
“What players want to be able to do is be good footballers.
“The training and administration facility is going to be first-class and they’ll be playing in what I think will be an incredible, pumping venue in the middle of a great city.”
Tasmania’s bid got across the line after the federal government chipped in $240 million for a contentious $715 million new waterfront stadium in Hobart.
The stadium was the final piece required by the AFL before approving the licence, which was unanimously backed by the 18 existing club presidents on Tuesday.
The state government is contributing $375 million to the stadium, as well as $12 million per year over 12 years towards a team, plus $60 million for a high-performance centre.