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Preferred city stadium options fail to measure up, report reveals

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EXCLUSIVE | The two major locations being considered for a prospective new city stadium complex were ranked at the bottom of a list of options for a similar plan presented to the former Labor Government, InDaily can reveal.

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A second city sports and entertainment hub was officially placed on the policy agenda last week with confirmation the Marshall Government was “actively planning additional major inner-city and sporting entertainment infrastructure”.

It’s understood plans for a covered stadium have been prepared for consideration but a specific site has not been earmarked, with competing proposals for an arena on either side of the River Torrens.

The first would be adjacent the existing Adelaide Oval and would include a major revamp of the Memorial Drive Tennis hub, while the second would involve a more complex build above the railyards on the river’s southern bank.

The same precinct must also house the promised new Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

But InDaily can reveal options for a similar plan were presented to the former Weatherill Government in the lead-up to the last state election, in a report prepared by Adelaide engineering consultants Aurecon and obtained by InDaily.

The report detailed a vision “to build on South Australia’s strategic competitive advantage through the further development of a vibrant riverbank precinct by adding a world class contemporary live entertainment and sporting events facility to assist SA in achieving its economic priorities”.

The analysis details options for six prospective sites “for an entertainment facility to cater for 15,000 patrons” – around the current seating capacity of Coopers Stadium at Hindmarsh.

However, the brief sought “flexibility to host sporting events – namely tennis and court based sports”, with parking provisions for a minimum of 300 cars.

The Arena footprint was “not based on a detailed functional brief” but rather “based on benchmarking of similar facilities for Entertainment, Tennis, Netball and Basketball through Aurecon and our partners’ significant experience with similar facilities globally” .

The analysis is “based on an initial high level assessment only for the purpose of facilitating a shortlisting of potential site options and progression into next phases”, noting that “no demand analysis has been undertaken to confirm the suitability” of the plan, which “should be undertaken as part of the business case”.

A second city stadium proposal was never adopted as policy by Labor.

The six Riverbank precinct sites considered were:

The Memorial Drive upgrade appears closely aligned to the existing concept currently being proposed, while there was only one option contemplated on the Torrens’ south bank, a build west of Morphett Street Bridge – the location believed to be favoured by the Adelaide Venue Management Corporation, which runs the Convention Centre, Entertainment Centre and Coopers Stadium.

The latter two are expected to be sold off if the south-bank option gains favour.

Unused land west of Morphett St and south of the river. Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

Aurecon also briefly examined a further option at the Government’s request – an expansion of the existing Adelaide Entertainment Centre facility “to consider potential of additional seats without the synergies of a multipurpose entertainment venue”.

However, that option was given little weight as it did “not comply with the requirements of the rest of the options, for example, accommodation of world’s best practice in contemporary entertainment event facilities [and] other sports to the required standards”.

The six other options were assessed against various site comparison criteria and given a weighted score, which saw the proposal to expand Memorial Drive ranked sixth, and the proposal to build on the south bank west of Morphett St ranked fifth.

The highest-ranked option was west of Morphett St Bridge on the north side of the Torrens, with a new build on the corner of Montefiore Road and Memorial Drive coming second.

An extract from the report.

The expansion of the existing Tennis arena was summarised as having insufficient site geometry, and “significantly impacting” the existing Adelaide Oval and Next Generation facilities.

The authors warned of a “congested feel” within the existing urban environment, noting “concurrent events with other existing facilities [would be] extremely difficult to manage”.

However, the site was deemed to have “good pedestrian access with [the potential for] grade separation of pedestrians and transport”, although it has been reported that the current plan could see the road thoroughfare closed altogether instead.

The south-bank proposal was deemed to have the potential to “continue place-making south of the river and optimise the integration potential with existing entertainment [and] hospitality facilities”, with “excellent proximity to existing public transport facilities”.

A summary of the options.

However, the report warned pedestrian access was “challenging to navigate” and would require “event overlay” to ferry attendees safely over busy transport corridors.

“Site geometry [is] constrained by Rail corridor, Montefiore Road (i.e. Morphett street bridge) and River Torrens (it is noted that spanning over the rail corridor may be possible),” the report details, further warning that the potential for alternate land uses such as hotels, retail and mixed use “could be limited due to [the] Arena being incorporated”.

There was also the potential for contaminated soil and groundwater requiring remediation.

The site would also require the acquisition and demolition of the existing Rowing Club, causing “possible heritage issues”.

Interestingly, at the time, the south-bank proposal was deemed the less expensive, estimated at $561 million, compared to $613 million for the Memorial Drive expansion.

The option west of Morphett St on the north bank was deemed to have “optimal use of existing land potential for urban place-making” and was considered the “most balanced entertainment and sporting precinct location with excellent 
place-making ability”.

“The site strengthens [the] urban precinct north of the river to build and further leverage the
 existing Riverbank entertainment precinct south of the river [including] full utilisation of Pinky Flat as a community space between existing facilities and [the] new facility,” the report reads.

It also has “excellent flexibility for Goods, Patrons and Transport Access”.

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