Australian rules-Tasmania set for AFL team after govt stadium pledge

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Tasmania's position as the only Australian state without a team in the top tier league of one of the country's four major football codes looks set to end after the government confirmed a contribution to the building of a new stadium on Saturday.

The construction of the A$715 million ($472 million) stadium in the city of Hobart was a condition of entry for a Tasmanian team to the Australian Football League (AFL), the premier Australian rules competition.

"It's not an Australian Football League if it leaves off the south island, and that's what has occurred for too long," Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said after announcing the A$240 million pledge in the city on Saturday.

"What this project will be is a very significant project that will lift up Tasmania and lift up this most beautiful of cities here in Hobart."

The Tasmanian team would be the 19th in the AFL, Australia's best attended and commercially most successful football league.

"For a club to compete and succeed on the national stage, it needs a home that enables and empowers it to compete from the start, on and off the field, and today's announcement gives a potential Tasmanian club that opportunity," AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said in a statement.

"The stadium ... is the final workstream, with the question on a 19th licence to be answered in the coming days."

($1 = 1.5135 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Lincoln Feast)

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