Planning Minister Stephan Knoll, whose government awarded the Stadium Management Authority a $42 million taxpayer-guaranteed loan to build the 128-room hotel, today fronted media as heavy construction began at the site.
The hotel will be built on two elevated pods that follow the external curves of the eastern facade of the stadium – a design that the Government insists will not encroach on the park lands or public plaza.
Off-site construction work began on the hotel over one month ago, with on-side work starting earlier this month.
This morning’s press conference was interrupted by a protestor, who yelled “disgrace” at Knoll as he was announcing the construction works.
The hotel has been widely criticised by hoteliers, park lands advocates and the opposition, who claim the hotel is anti-competitive, infringes on public land and is not transparently-funded.
But Knoll this morning insisted that the hotel would be a “fantastic asset for South Australians”.
He cited statistics released this week, which showed a record $7.6 billion growth in the state’s tourism sector as a reason the hotel was needed.
“This is a hotel that is going to deliver 120 jobs here in South Australia,” he said.
“It’s also going to return money to taxpayers in the form of dividends and it’s going to keep our world-class Adelaide Oval the best in the country, if not the best in the world.
“The foundational work that we’re seeing today is a critical part of the build process and the hotel will now very quickly start to take shape.”
Knoll said the Stadium Management Authority had already begun recruiting people to work at the hotel, with bookings expected to become available from March next year.
In its media release announcing the Oval Hotel build in November last year, the Stadium Management Authority said construction was anticipated to begin in May this year and be completed by June 2020.
But Labor has repeatedly criticised the SMA and Marshall Government for “delaying” construction on the hotel and missing its May start date, a claim the SMA denies.
SMA chair Kevin Scarce told reporters in June that the construction company in charge of the development – Built Environs – had decided to hold back the start of major works until the end of the AFL season.
“What is really important is that we don’t disrupt footy – footy and cricket,” Scarce said at the time.
The SMA argues the build will still be completed in September, ahead of the International Cricket Council (ICC) World T20 to be held at Adelaide Oval in November.
“The deadline for construction works outside the seating bowl set by the ICC is three weeks prior to the first game at the Oval, which is 1 November,” a spokesperson told InDaily in June.
“The build program… sits well within those parameters.”
The hotel’s general manager Bodelle Francis today told reporters event organisers had already expressed “a whole lot of interest” in the hotel.
She said the hotel was “on track” to open in September next year.
The SMA came under intense scrutiny after it announced that the hotel would be funded using a $42 million taxpayer loan.
The Adelaide and Port Adelaide football clubs, along with the Adelaide City Council, complained that they weren’t consulted before the announcement.
And the State Government was criticised for failing to put the request for underwriting the $42 million through its rigorous unsolicited bids process, which was set up after the Gillman land deal debacle.
More recently, the SMA has been accused of misleading the public over where profits from the Adelaide Oval Hotel would flow, with only $600,000 per year to be returned to the Adelaide Oval, with the remainder to line SACA and SANFL coffers.
Knoll said today that the Adelaide Oval was not one of the buildings at risk of flammable cladding, following yesterday’s release of a statewide audit of high-rise residential and assembly buildings.
“This building doesn’t have an increased risk to life safety,” he said.
However, he said the building had “some minor works that will happen over time to further reduce that risk”.
He could not specify what those “minor works” were.
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