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Adelaide Oval authority pushed out Port's Game Day Village over "cheaper beer"

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UPDATED | Port Adelaide Football Club was forced to abandon its popular Game Day Village venue because Adelaide Oval management didn’t like competition from “cheaper beer”, club CEO Keith Thomas says.

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Port Adelaide had been running the venue outside Adelaide Oval – which offered a place for fans to gather and drink before the game – until the end of last year’s AFL season.

But CEO Keith Thomas told a parliamentary inquiry this morning the club had abandoned the pre-game venue, which he described as a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to connect the club with its fans and improve the game day experience.

Addressing parliament’s inquiry into the Adelaide Oval Hotel, Thomas said that the Adelaide Oval Stadium Management Authority had made it “impossible” to continue running the Game Day Village venue – including by challenging its liquor licence applications – because it didn’t like the competition.

“Game Day Village was an example of something people loved … we saw it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reinvent the way that footy was presented in this state,” he said.

“We were actually providing our patrons with cheaper beer (than is sold inside the Oval).

“This was competition and therefore it wasn’t welcome.”

He said he couldn’t imagine that the venue had much impact on drink purchase revenues inside the oval, yet the SMA had claimed that it did.

The Stadium Management Authority says Port’s claims are outrageous and wrong.

Port Adelaide (said) that the Game Day Village was ‘not a priority’.

Asked whether there was any possibility Port would pursue opening the venue again with the support of the SMA, Thomas said: “I would’ve thought that was highly unlikely – virtually impossible … based on how vigorously they (the SMA) fought us.”

But SMA CEO Andrew Daniels told reporters this afternoon the claim was “outrageous” and “totally incorrect”.

He said the SMA had never opposed any liquor licence application by Port Adelaide and had never expressed antipathy towards the Game Day Village.

Moreover, he said, Port Adelaide itself had deemed Game Day Village “not a priority”.

“In our discussions with the executives from Port Adelaide they have told us two things – firstly that the Game Day Village was ‘not a priority’ – their words – ‘not a priority for the Port Adelaide Football Club’,” Daniels said.

“Secondly the Memorial Drive Tennis Centre is being fully redeveloped this year with a new roof over the top.

“Any suggestion that we in some way tried to prevent a Game Day Village is totally rejected, it is just totally wrong.”

Daniels said the SMA had run Game Day Village “in conjunction with Port Adelaide Football Club” and would be “more than happy” to do so again this year.

He said he didn’t know why Thomas said it.

“The damage that that sort of incorrect statement does is quite frankly, pretty horrible.”

“I actually don’t know what brought this on.”

Port Adelaide Football Club CEO Keith Thomas gives evidence at a parliamentary select committee into a planned Adelaide Oval hotel. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

 

Meanwhile, Labor’s Stephen Mullighan has expressed shock at revelations that the South Australian Cricket Association and the SANFL had been prepared to part-fund the proposed Adelaide Oval hotel – which is to be granted a taxpayer-funded $42 million loan.

“The South Australian Cricket Association has told parliament today that they were prepared to part-fund this hotel development, and that their understanding was that the SMA was going to do the same,” said Mullighan.

“If the SACA and the SANFL were willing to part-fund this development why on earth were taxpayers forced by their government to hand over a $42 million loan to fund the whole development.

“This is an enormous revelation today – the government has needlessly provided taxpayers’ funding for this hotel rather than make sure that the SANFL and the SACA have some skin in the game.”

More to come

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