NT makes its case for a Territory AFL team

NT makes its case for a Territory AFL team

The Northern Territory is a step closer to having its own AFL team with the release of a strategic business case by the Australian Football League Team Northern Territory Taskforce.

The Taskforce have completed a strategic business case, which includes a 10-year plan to establish a Northern Territory (NT) based AFL club.

The Taskforce, made up of Northern Territory Government and AFLNT representatives, along with industry and AFL leaders, was formed in 2021 to lead the investigation into establishing an AFL club in the Territory.

AFL is an integral part of the culture and social fabric of the Territory. With over 40,000 participants Territory wide and 5,000 people playing AFL in Darwin alone, the passion for the game runs the length and breadth of the Territory.

The strategic business case has found an NT based AFL club will bring significant sporting benefits to the Territory and deliver positive social and economic outcomes.

It will help promote the Territory as a sought-after travel and lifestyle destination, enhance the liveability of the region and showcase the Territory as an attractive place to live, work and play in line with the government’s 2030 population growth targets.

The Business Case puts forward an aspiration for a future multi-purpose Darwin city stadium, where a Territory AFL team would be based.

A Darwin City Stadium is at an early stage of planning so a future Northern Territory Government can have a clear roadmap and plan, if it were to decide in future to proceed with the project.

The current TIO Stadium which is capable of being upgraded and it would provide a cost-effective way of delivering Territorians a better facility to watch major sporting events like AFL matches. The Territory Labor Government has secured multiple Gold Coast Suns matches and NRL matches with the Parramatta Eels.

The Territory Government has appointed Investment NT to guide the next stage of the work towards an AFL Team for the Territory.

An Advisory Group, with leading professionals and experts of industry, has been formed to guide the implementation of recommendations provided in the Strategic Business Case, and decisions around investment and benefits of establishing an AFL team in the NT.

The Strategic Business Case is the first stage in realising a locally based AFL club with several key recommendations identified as next steps over the coming 18 months.

The 2019 Bastion EBA report ‘A feasibility study into an AFL license in the Northern Territory’ forecast that the economic benefit to the NT could be as much as $559 million if the new club was provided with a new stadium and training facilities, and up to $148 million in the first season using existing facilities. The Strategic Business Case indicates that an AFL Team would create 160 full-time jobs, bring game day activation of the economy and add $116M a year in economic output to the Territory economy.

For more information, see https://tfhc.nt.gov.au/sport-and-active-recreation/afl-taskforce

Quotes attributable to Chief Minister, Eva Lawler

“Territorians love their AFL and there’s no doubt that having a long-term plan to get a team in the AFL is the best way to ensure success.”

“This process and the strategic business case is about making sure the NT is ready to make a bid for an AFL licence when one becomes available.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Sport, Kate Worden

“The Northern Territory is home to some of the best AFL players in the country. Having an AFL club right on our doorstop will mean we get to retain some of that talent and give local players the opportunity to thrive at an elite level right here in the NT.”

“Aussie Rules is an integral part of the culture and the social fabric of the Northern Territory, and we’re committed to investigating every possibility of establishing an AFL club to the Territory.”

Quotes attributable to AFLNT Chairperson, Sean Bowden

“AFL is our national game and with continued work, the Territory will have the opportunity to be part of a truly national league with a local team supported by a passionate Territory community.

“Just as importantly, a Territory team would give our young people not just a team to follow, but a dream to aspire to, whether as a player, a supporter, a physio, a team manager, a statistician, or media broadcaster. And these options will be here in the Territory, not interstate.

“The AFL has a proven track record of positively influencing community outcomes in relation to education attendance, mental and physical health, crime and anti-social behaviour and equality.”

The Northern Territory (NT) Government and AFLNT established a Territory AFL Team Taskforce in 2021 to identify the pathway to explore opportunities to underpin an NT AFL licence.

The taskforce is comprised of committed Territory locals and industry experts. They are:

  • Kate Worden, Minister for Sport (Co-Chair)
  • Mr Sean Bowden, Chair AFLNT (Co-Chair)
  • Mr Nigel Browne, CEO, Larrakia Development Corporation
  • Mr Tony Edmondstone, CEO Airport Development Group
  • Mr Lewis Martin, Managing Director Seven Melbourne & Network Head of Sport
  • Mr Peter Jackson, CEO, Melbourne Football Club (2013-2018) and Essendon Football Club (1996 to 2009)
  • Dr Josie Douglas, General Manager, Central Land Council.

The objective of the taskforce is to explore and build on the foundations laid by the AFLNT’s Feasibility Study: The Unconventional Model, and to develop a business plan and a strategy to effectively drive the Territory’s AFL licence ambitions.

The taskforce has now delivered its strategic business case.

Read the NT AFL Club Licence Strategic Business Case PDF (3.8 MB).