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Wrong note: Botanic Gardens opposes Adelaide Oval outdoor concerts bid

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UPDATED: A bid to stage music events with up to 15,000 people at Adelaide Oval No.2 could “saturate” the city’s outdoor concert market and threaten Botanic Park’s status as a revenue-earning venue for national and international artists, the Botanic Gardens’ board has warned.

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InDaily reported in September that the Adelaide Oval Stadium Management Authority had proposed relaxing restrictions at Adelaide Oval No.2 – the  cricket oval adjoining the western side of Adelaide Oval – to allow it to host events of up to 15,000 people outside cricket and AFL seasons.

The SMA has also proposed building “modest” unenclosed scaled seating accommodating up to 100 people for what the authority has named the “Village Green” event space at Oval No.2.

The proposal is included in the Adelaide City Council’s draft Community Land Management Plan (CLMP) for the park lands site – a document last revised in 2009 before the Adelaide Oval redevelopment was complete.

According to a Torrens University Australia economic study commissioned by the SMA, the Village Green event space would inject up to $13.7 million into Adelaide’s economy each year and create as many as 106 new jobs.

But in a letter to the Adelaide Park Lands Authority, Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium director Lucy Sutherland wrote that the SMA proposal would “create direct competition for the music events being offered in the Botanic Park Lands and potentially saturate a specialised market in South Australia”.

Alongside the annual WOMADelaide music festival, Botanic Park also hosts up to six “medium to major music events” each year attracting between 7000 to 20,000 people each event.

High-profile musicians to have recently performed at Botanic Park include Elton John, Lionel Ritchie, James Taylor, Yusuf Cat Stevens and Florence and the Machine.

“These events have created a national and international recognised brand for Botanic Park,” Sutherland wrote.

“The Board generates revenue from these commercial music events and these essential funds support the maintenance of this important state asset, which is enjoyed by South Australians and provides overall benefits to the state.”

WOMADelaide in Botanic Park. Photo: InDaily

Sutherland wrote that the Adelaide City Council, state government agencies and authorities were required to “co-operate and collaborate to protect and enhance the park lands” under provisions in the Adelaide Park Lands Act.

She wrote that the Adelaide Park Lands Event Management Plan and Park Lands Act states that the Park Lands Authority must “support other activities that… enhance the Adelaide Park Lands” and “support respectful co-existence between events”.

“In consideration of these principles and functions, the Board expresses its concerns with the proposed amendments to the policies and use outlined in the CLMP in respect to the Adelaide Oval No 2 and the Village Green,” she wrote.

“It is of the view that these CLMP amendments in respect to the use of Oval No.2 will contradict core aspects of the Adelaide Park Lands Act.

“The Board therefore urges the City of Adelaide to reject the proposal for the use of Oval 2 for music concerts.”

Both St Peter’s Cathedral and the North Adelaide Society have also urged the council to reject the SMA’s proposal, arguing the Village Green event space could cause parking and noise disruption.

According to the council, 68 per cent of the 31 people who responded to an online survey did not support the SMA’s proposed Village Green event space.

Respondents raised concerns about the SMA “commercialising” the park lands and the impact of increased noise on nearby residential areas.

But those in support argued the event space would “revitalise North Adelaide”.

In its report to the Park Lands Authority, the council wrote that the SMA had provided evidence of “significant economic benefits associated with hosting events on Oval No.2 for the Adelaide economy”.

It also stated that Oval No.2 was a “natural amphitheatre that restricts noise impacts to the north of the precinct” and its proximity to Adelaide Oval’s existing back-of-house infrastructure meant events could be set-up and packed-down in a timely manner.

The council has recommended that the Park Lands Authority support the SMA’s Village Green proposal, on the condition that the number of events be limited to six per year.

In a statement to InDaily, the SMA said that concerts and community events were currently held at parks and venues across Adelaide and were a “critical part of adding to the vibrancy and vitality of the city”.

“The proposed amendments are aimed at adding to this by utilising Adelaide Oval No.2 – which is fully maintained by the Adelaide Oval Stadium Management Authority – for use by the public,” the statement said.

“We have a good working relationship with the Botanic Gardens and look forward to that continuing.

“Beyond that, the SMA respects the process that is underway and, as such, won’t be commenting further at this time.”

Sutherland will speak at tonight’s Adelaide Park Lands Authority meeting before the authority votes on whether to support the amendments in the draft CLMP.

*An earlier copy of this story stated that the Stadium Management Authority was legally required to uphold the principles of the Park Lands Act. This has been amended to the Adelaide Park Lands Authority.

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