RAW: Adelaide Oval – Casino To Pull Out – The Age Reports

Ashley Porter has posted an article on The Age website this morning announcing that the Skycity Board will not proceed with the planned redevelopment here, extending the building to the Torrens and building the footbridge. His article is:

New blow to Port’s rescue bid

Ashley Porter, Adelaide  – June 7, 2011

PORT Adelaide’s off-field crisis has taken a turn for the worse with the possibility of the Adelaide Oval redevelopment being shelved.

The Age understands that the Sky City Casino group, a key investor in the development of the precinct, is about to announce from its Auckland headquarters it has scrapped plans to expand the Adelaide Casino to the bank of the River Torrens.

This upgrade, and a proposed bridge to Adelaide Oval, is a major part of the complete package, and without it the Mike Rann state government faces an even more daunting task to pass legislation on the $535 million project.

And with widely accepted views that the Adelaide Oval redevelopment will cost hundreds of millions of dollars more than the government has limited in its pledge, the project is far from certain to go ahead.

The AFL believes Port’s move to Adelaide Oval is crucial to its long-term survival, and that of the Adelaide Football Club.

It is also understood that the AFL was asked by the SA state government via the SANFL to delay its announcement on Port’s financial rescue package because it did not want further bad news while still trying to pass its legislation.

As reported in The Age last week, the AFL, which has worked hard to broker the best possible outcomes for SA football, is ready to announce it will take back the two AFL licences from the SANFL and give them to Adelaide and eventually to Port when it has proved its recovery plan is sustainable. Talks have been held for some weeks.

Furthermore, it wants to help Port survive until the clubs move their home games to Adelaide Oval in 2014 or 2015 by giving it a big slice of its share of the AFL’s $1.2 billion television deal in advance to help cover Port’s debt, which is believed to exceed $9 million.

It means the AFL would become a stakeholder in Adelaide Oval with the newly formed Stadium Management Authority, with SANFL general manager Leigh Whicker as its general manger. The AFL involvement would certainly further irk a reasonable portion of SA Cricket Association members.

The AFL will be expected to contribute financially to the project, but certainly not to the extent of the shortfall required, widely estimated at more than $200 million . The state government’s $535 million pledge includes wiping off the SA Cricket Association’s $85 million debt.

The AFL and SANFL strongly support a move by Adelaide and Port away from AAMI Stadium to Adelaide Oval because they believe the Adelaide Oval redevelopment will generate far greater attendances due to the city location.

Port needs 28,000 fans at home games at AAMI Stadium to break even financially, which it has achieved only once this season, when it played the Crows.
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/afl/afl-news/new-blow-to-ports-rescue-bid-20110606-1fpby.html#ixzz1OXrbWXdb

The Liberals have managed to sound supportive while at the same time proposing amendments and conditions that run to the heart of the project. These include a cap on expenditure, normal planning processes apply, the continuation of the parklands under Adelaide City Council control and auditor general overview.

These matters run to the heart of Minister Conlon’s proposed legislation and the cap on expenditure will frustrate a government that for so long has revelled in cost blow outs that flow to development and union mates.

Further, SACA and President Ian McLachlan’s claims that he and it can build world class facilities was further shreded on Sunday evening when the Socceroos played at Adelaide Oval. The new Members’ stand was found to be quite deficient with rain being sucked in through the gaps at the top of the stand that affected people sitting many rows down form the top. Further, even though the members’ stand was only about half filled, the catering arangements were shown to be hopelessly inadequate, with long queues existing most of the game. (And let’s not forget there is still no dunny on the seocnd floor where the members’ bar is.)

‘A 20th century stadium for the 21st century’ was one critic’s description. Let it not be forgot also that the cost of this grandstand went from $70m to $115m under SACA CEO John Harnden’s and McLachlan’s watch. One has to ask just where did the money go?

Excuses that it was designed with summer sport only in mind can be debunked by the fact McLachlan had started confiderntial discussions with the AFL in 2007 about fotball coming to Adelaide Oval, well before the designs of the stand had been ever started upon.

Yet, the State Government wants to hand over $535m to both of them to manage. Go figure.

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