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Marshall's city arena to cost $80m a year to run

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UPDATED: The Marshall Government’s mooted $700 million new city arena and sporting complex would provide a much-needed “sugar-hit” to the state’s economy, despite costing taxpayers in the order of $80 million a year to run, the corporation behind the plan has told a parliamentary committee.

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The new sport and concert facility – dubbed the “Riverbank Arena” – was announced in May as the centrepiece of the Marshall Government’s re-election campaign.

The venue, to be located directly west of the Morphett Street bridge on the banks of the River Torrens, would sit up to 15,000 people and host concerts, conventions and court sports such as basketball.

Adelaide Venue Management Corporation CEO Anthony Kirchner, whose government agency produced a business case highlighting the need for the new arena, revealed at Monday’s budget and finance parliamentary committee that the new venue would rake in over $100 million in revenue each year, but would cost taxpayers in the order of $80 million to run.

But Premier Steven Marshall was later forced to correct the record, telling parliament on Tuesday that the arena is only forecast to generate total revenue in the order of $49.2 million each year and incur total operating costs in the order of $34.5 million.

Kirchner said in excess of 7000 jobs would be created during the arena’s construction, with an additional 24,000 jobs to be created over 30 years once the venue is operational.

“You’re looking at a circa increase in South Australian employment as a result of the investment in the new arena of 3.7 per cent and overall, the development will deliver an increase in gross state product in the order of 6.8 per cent,” Kirchner said.

“It delivers a sugar-hit to the visitor economy, but it’s really that lasting economic legacy that is driven by attracting people to South Australia to see what we have to offer here and the opportunities that exist here that are the real benefit to the state.”

Kirchner said the new arena would attract “larger, international conventions and exhibitions” to Adelaide.

He said the new venue would boost the state’s exhibition space by 40 per cent, which would allow South Australia to host a further 15 to 20 event days each year

“It is absolutely critical that South Australia be in a position to attract those thought-leaders and world decision-makers to see what Adelaide and South Australia has to offer,” he said.

Kirchner said the Adelaide 36s and Adelaide Thunderbirds would “ideally be playing at this facility”.

He said currently, about 7000 people attend basketball games in Adelaide, but the new facility would attract over 10,000 spectators each match.

An alternative proposal – Arena-Plus – had incorporated a square soccer pitch that could be elevated to become a roof for indoor events, but that bid was ruled out by Infrastructure SA.

Kirchner told the committee Adelaide Venue Management preferred the Arena Plus proposal.

“Our preference was certainly Arena Plus, but all of the economic modelling indicated that the arena was the preferred option,” he said.

The Riverbank Arena is set to replace the Adelaide Entertainment Centre at Hindmarsh, which currently sits 11,000 people and is deemed “at the end of its design life”.

The Government plans to sell the Entertainment Centre site, but Kirchner refused to reveal the land’s estimated value, citing commercial confidentiality.

“It will be going to the market and for us to flag that in this manner may prevent us from getting the maximum commercial return,” he said.

“That return will go to the State Government, I would expect, as opposed to Adelaide Venue Management.”

Kirchner also refused to reveal how much debt the Adelaide Venue Management Corporation would hold on its balance sheet as a result of the new venue being built.

“That’s commercial in confidence at this stage and no doubt the details will be released tomorrow in the Budget,” he said.

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