The Tasmanian state government has committed to spending a reported US$17.6 million to keep Hawthorn AFL team in the state for another five years.
The state signed a five-year sponsorship deal with Hawthorn yesterday that will see the club play up to five games a year in Tasmania.
According the widespread reports in Australia, the first year of the deal will cost Tasmanian tax-payers between US$3.2 million and US$3.4 million.
Hawthorn, though founded and based in Melbourne, have played four games a year at York Park in Launceston, Tasmania, since 2007, with the remaining games played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The previous deal between the state and the team was worth over US$1 million less over the same five-year period. That deal saw the AFL club's shirts embroidered with the Tasmania logo.
It is understood a seven game offer from North Melbourne AFL club was also on the table, but the Tasmanian government rejected it due to cost issues.
Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett did concede that the renewed deal did mean that Tasmania is now unlikely to have an AFL team in its own right, a source of contention for many Tasmanians who feel the new deal was hasty and does not represent value for money.
"I'm sorry that AFL Tasmania is so bitter," Kennett said. "If Scott [Wade, general manager of AFL Tasmania] was a little more creative he might have built a better reputation and a better league down there.
"AFL Tasmania did try with a seconds team I think with North Melbourne and that folded. So they had the opportunity to prove they were able to participate in a bigger competition and Scotty and his boys failed dismally.
"To the credit of the AFL … they've always said to us if we want to stay there [Tasmania] they wouldn't force us out."
Hawthorn last won the league in 2008.
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