War of words erupts over Bellerive games - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

War of words erupts over Bellerive games

By Patrick Caruana 14/07/2010 02:25:17 PM Comments (0)

The prospect of AFL games being played at Hobart's Bellerive Oval has reignited old divisions between Tasmania's north and south.

The Tasmanian government has a long-term agreement with Hawthorn to play at Aurora Stadium in Launceston in a multi-million dollar deal which includes the state being the Hawks' major sponsor.

But Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett has met with Richmond chief executive Brendon Gale, discussing the possibility of Bellerive Oval becoming an AFL venue.

It is understood that two other AFL clubs are looking at playing in Hobart.

Tasmanian Tourism Minister Michelle O'Byrne has stated the government would not underwrite any other teams to play in the state, but the discussions with Richmond have reopened the old north-south rivalry.

Launceston City Council Mayor Albert van Zetten said Aurora Stadium should remain the only AFL venue in Tasmania.

"The former premier Jim Bacon made the commitment that Tasmania would have one football ground and one cricket ground," he said.

"It makes sense to continue that so each can be an elite, highly-specialised ground for the appropriate sport."

But Clarence acting Mayor Doug Chipman, whose council includes Bellerive Oval, said the venue was not trying to steal games from Launceston.

"It is time for the parochial whinging to stop," Mr Chipman said on Wednesday.

"This is not about undermining the Hawthorn deal at Aurora Stadium, but building on its success to see AFL matches played elsewhere in Tasmania."

Mr Chipman said the bickering needed to stop if the state ever wanted to have an AFL team of its own.

"If we are to ever get serious about a local team in the AFL, we need to demonstrate the breadth and success of the sport throughout the state," he said.

"An eventual state team to Tasmania will need to embrace all of the State and will not survive by disenfranchising southern Tasmania."

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