Yesterday, Keith Thomas told a parliamentary committee that 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”.
He added that the SMA had opposed liquor licences for the venue and made “a really concerted effort to ensure that operating that space was as difficult as humanly possible”.
Stadium Management Authority CEO Andrew Daniels told ABC Radio Adelaide this morning: “It is the most scurrilous, outrageous, disgraceful accusation I have ever heard in my entire career.”
“Why Keith said it yesterday I have no idea. I honestly have no idea. It is totally wrong,” he said.
“The reason the Game Day Village is not happening this year is because the Memorial Drive Tennis Stadium is being redeveloped with a new roof going over the top, that has nothing to do with the SMA.”
Yesterday, Daniels told reporters the SMA had never opposed a liquor licence application from Port Adelaide and claimed that club executives had described the pre-game venue as “not a priority”.
But a Port Adelaide spokesperson told InDaily this morning that the club stands by Thomas’ comments and was happy to provide the committee with any further information that it requires.
InDaily asked whether the club has any documentary evidence to back Thomas’ claims that the SMA “vigorously” opposed the Game Day Village – including, for example, a copy of any submission the authority had made opposing its liquor licence – but the spokesperson said the club would not be making any further public comment outside of the committee.
Thomas was not available to speak today.
Witnesses who present to the committee speak under parliamentary privilege, meaning that no legal action can be taken against them for any statements made.
Port Adelaide has characterised testimony to the committee as “under oath”, although no formal oaths are taken at the committee.
The committee has been inquiring into the $42 million taxpayer loan given to the SMA to fund the proposed Adelaide Oval hotel.
Labor Treasury spokesperson Stephen Mullighan told ABC Radio Adelaide people are more likely to believe an AFL club than the Adelaide Oval Stadium Management Authority in the dispute over the Game Day Village, because of its statements about the proposed hotel.
“As this parliamentary inquiry has gone on unfortunately we haven’t always been able to put a great deal of faith into what the SMA has told us,” he said.
“With regard to the hotel, they told us they needed a $42 million, taxpayer-funded loan because they couldn’t get their own finance.
“We’ve learnt over recent weeks the Commonwealth Bank, their banker, was prepared to put up part of the money.”
When the taxpayer-funded loan for the hotel was announced, Daniels said it had been “very, very difficult” to get a commercial bank loan for the project.
The potential Commonwealth Bank loan was included in a chronology of events surrounding the Adelaide Oval Hotel proposal, submitted to the committee last month.
Daniels told reporters yesterday that the reason the SMA rejected the commercial loan for the hotel – which was offered at a less favourable interest rate than the taxpayer-funded loan – was that the SANFL was unable to pay its half of a required $12.6 million deposit to the Commonwealth Bank.
He said the South Australian Cricket Association was in a much better financial position than the SANFL and would have been able to stump up its $6.3 million.
He said he did not know whether SACA would have had the capacity to pay the entire $12.6 million deposit, although such an arrangement had not been proposed.
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