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Stadium wars: new city venue "inevitable" as talks step up

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The operator of the government-owned Entertainment Centre and Coopers Stadium will meet with Infrastructure SA tomorrow to discuss “future infrastructure needs” as it progresses plans to build a major new city arena over the Adelaide railyards – which would prompt the sell-off of its existing assets.

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The Adelaide Venue Management Corporation, which also runs the Adelaide Convention Centre, has confirmed the meeting but insists there is “no specific agenda” to discuss plans for a multi-purpose facility that would see A-League soccer shift from Hindmarsh to the CBD, in a new arena that would also double as an entertainment hub for events and musical acts.

It’s understood it would be part-funded by selling off the Entertainment Centre and Coopers Stadium, but no formal proposal has yet been put to government.

However, government sources say there is likely to be a showdown between competing stadium proposals, with an alternative plan to build a new multipurpose entertainment facility at the Next Generation facility on Memorial Drive, adjacent Adelaide Oval, also gaining influential support.

That followed an aborted bid by Tennis SA to plug plans for a multi-purpose arena at its Memorial Drive home before last year’s state election.

A third option being mooted – but not formally proposed – is an arena built on the southern end of the Adelaide golf course.

Either option could also prompt the sale of the 8000-seat Titanium Security Arena, home of the Adelaide 36ers and Lightning.

While it’s believed Adelaide United is open to a city move, an alternative under discussion within Government is a renovation of Coopers Stadium, to boost seating capacity.

However, one insider said: “I think it’s inevitable there will be an inner-city stadium somewhere.”

But sources warned “a lot of stars have got to align” before that happened – including convincing the Marshall Government of the merits of a specific plan.

InDaily has been told the AVMC plan is in a “feasibility stage”, but that it would likely be offset by the sale of the Entertainment Centre and Coopers Stadium.

However, it’s understood the corporation’s preferred venue could cause issues, given the expense of building a structure of that size over existing railway lines.

The plan has been discussed in “recent weeks”, InDaily has been told.

However, it’s understood the proposal was initially assessed without the knowledge of Tourism Minister David Ridgway, who has portfolio responsibility for the Convention Centre, and InDaily has been told some in the Government were unhappy when plans were released to the media, via a story in the Advertiser last year, believing it was designed to shoehorn the Government into going along with the vision.

“Nothing is expected to happen in the short term,” one source said, noting whatever option got up, it would be a “longer-term plan”.

Adelaide Venue Management CEO Anthony Kirchner told InDaily he was meeting with Infrastructure SA tomorrow about “the future infrastructure needs of SA”, but “to my knowledge, there’s no specific agenda around the new arena”.

However, InDaily has been told the issue would be discussed as a way of “kicking off” discussions.

Kirchner also denied suggestions the project was the catalyst for the influx of several “VIP” international investors being entertained at the Convention Centre tonight, saying it was “fanciful to suggest they’re there to discuss the stadium proposal”.

He said the event was intended as a networking function for VIPs who “might be keen to invest more in the state at some time in the future”.

Asked about the meeting, a state government spokesperson said: “The State Government regularly meets with potential investors to South Australia.”

Kirchner said of the railyards stadium plan: “We’ve done as you’d expect any organisation that runs some of the state’s most important venues to do.”

“We do our own strategic planning in terms of the future venue requirements in SA,” he said.

“We’re still undertaking that planning – as part of our internal strategic planning we’ve done an internal assessment but… there’s no specific proposal before Government at this point in time.”

Asked whether such a plan would see AVM’s other assets sold off, he said: “Not at this stage”.

“It’s simply AVMC doing its due diligence planning,” he said.

“We’re looking at a whole range of options, none of which have been identified as something we intend to put to government.

“We need to do a lot more work internally within AVMC and then we need to assess if there’s an appetite for Government to even consider the project.”

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