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City council to seek state and federal funding for new Aquatic Centre

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The Adelaide City Council plans to ask the state and federal governments to contribute $55 million towards the cost of building a new aquatic centre in the park lands in the hope that taxpayers can foot the bulk of the bill.

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A $90,000 feasibility study to be discussed at tonight’s council meeting has recommended that a new Aquatic Centre be built in the southeast corner of Denise Norton Park/Pardipardinyilla in North Adelaide.

The report recommends that the new centre include an outdoor 50-metre pool, as well as leisure, hydrotherapy and learn-to-swim pools, a gym, spa, saunas, creche, café and 400-space car park.

All up, the new facility would cover 24,121 square-metres (2.4ha) of park lands and cost over $65 million to build.

Councillors will tonight consider asking the state and federal governments to pay $55 million, with the council proposing to chip in $15-20 million.

“Given the significant upfront capital cost and ongoing subsidy required, it will be critical in order to attract significant funding support for this project that Council develops a comprehensive shared funding model,” a report to councillors states.

“There are a wide-ranging social, economic, and environmental benefits of the project together with the strong strategic alignment with State and Federal Government policies and plans relating to health and wellbeing.”

Building a new aquatic centre with an indoor 50-metre pool would increase the cost by about $12 million and require about 400 square-metres of more park lands space.

The preferred outdoor pool option is expected to rake in $550,000 in profit each year, or 60 cents per visit.

The council previously tried asking the state and federal governments to chip in for a new city aquatic centre, but did not receive a response.

According to the council, the existing aquatic centre in Park 2, which runs at an annual operating deficit of $2.5 million despite attracting over 700,000 yearly visits, is reaching the end of its lifecycle and requires “significant investment” over the next 10 years to make it more commercially viable.

The Adelaide Football Club in 2019 proposed bulldozing the centre and building a new $65 million training and community complex, but the club later withdrew the bid after suffering an economic hit from COVID-19.

The council plans to keep the existing Aquatic Centre operating while a new facility is built.

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