PwC backs proposed Darwin city stadium in support of NT AFL team

01 December 2021 4 min. read
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The proposal for a new $300 million Darwin city stadium to support the Northern Territory’s ambitious bid to enter the AFL has been backed by Tom Seymour, CEO of PwC Australia.

In a recent visit to the Top End to meet with senior local government officials and private sector figures, PwC CEO Tom Seymour shared his view that if the Northern Territory is to achieve its gross state product target of $40 billion by 2030 it would need to consider lifestyle factors in attracting a stable workforce.

“To get families to move here you need schools and hospitals, but you also need lifestyle and recreation,” he said. “A facility like a stadium is a great investment. If you look at it as a linear investment it doesn’t stack up, but it does if you want to create an environment where you attract people here. Lang Park in Brisbane, Adelaide Stadium, Optus Stadium, they were all criticised and were a struggle, yet not one of those projects is seen as a failure.”

PwC backs proposed Darwin city stadium in support of NT AFL team

Earlier this year, the AFLNT released concept designs for the proposed 25,000 seat multi-sports stadium to be built on the edge of the Darwin CBD along McMinn Street diagonally opposite Frog Hollow Park, which would double the existing capacity of the suburban TIO Stadium and be constructed within ten years to coincide with the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.

As part of the project’s next step, the AFLNT has engaged PwC to complete a strategic assessment.  “There has been nothing but positive feedback from people all over the Territory and all walks of life, who see the positivity in this type of vision,” said Larrakia Development Corporation CEO Nigel Browne.

“At the end of the day it’s something that will add to the lifestyle, sporting community and the fabric of Darwin, particularly when you look at other capital cities around Australia and the stadiums they have developed over many years.”

Still, the chief purpose of the proposed stadium would be to support a locally-based AFL franchise, with the Northern Territory emerging as a surprise contender for the next AFL licence in the wake of the feasibility report into a Tasmanian expansion club conducted by Boston Consulting Group’s Australian co-founder and former senior partner Colin Carter earlier this year.

Funded by the Territory government, brand strategy consultancy Bastion EBA has conducted its own study into an NT-based team.

A Territory AFL team

Intriguingly, while the resulting report concluded an annual $15 million operating shortfall due to the Territory’s relatively small population, it emphasises the huge social and economic benefits a local team would deliver in areas such as health, education and crime reduction, worth potentially in the range of $460 million per year.

A top-flight team with social impact as its raison d'être, Bastion notes, would be unprecedented in Australian and possibly global professional sports.

AFLNT chairman Sean Bowden further noted the potential impact on nurturing local talent, especially in remote communities. “A Territory-own AFL Team will be a pathway and inspiration to our young people, a source of community pride and a major stimulus to the economy,” he said, highlighting some of the most electrifying players the NT has regularly supplied the league. “We want them to play in front of home crowds made up of friends, family and countrymen.”

More recently, a heavy-hitting task-force has been assembled to further the ambition of establishing a local team, which includes among others co-chairs Bowden and NT government sports minister Kate Worden, along with Browne and former Melbourne Football Club CEO Peter Jackson, who many Demons fans consider the chief architect in laying the initial foundations for the Demon’s recent premiership triumph after 57 years in the wilderness.

The goal of the task-force will be to identify and further explore “opportunities that could underpin a team not only competing, but being sustainable and inspiring our young people by achieving high levels of success both on and off the field,” the mandate states, with a final report due toward the end of next year. Per Bowden and the AFLNT; “We know that when the opportunity for an AFL licence becomes available, the Territory needs to be ready.”