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City Council tells Crows: Release park lands HQ plan or we scrap it

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Adelaide City Council says it will scrap the Adelaide Football Club’s plans for a multi-million dollar parklands headquarters on the site of the ageing Aquatics Centre, unless it releases details for public discussion within 20 days.

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The decision was reached at a heated council meeting last night, during which councillors yelled insults across the room and threatened to lodge complaints with the SA Ombudsman over a simmering factional dispute.

North ward councillor Mary Couros successfully lobbied the council to issue the 20-day ultimatum to the Crows, telling the chamber she was “bored” of rumours circulating about what a $65 million new sport and recreation facility run by the club would look like.

Couros, who said she was yet to decide whether she would support the Crows’ bid, also called on the council to consult the public before January 31 “to help determine the scale and service offering of a new state of the art Adelaide Aquatic Centre”.

“This motion is basically just to tell the Adelaide Football Club to hurry up because it’s really getting boring hearing the same things in the paper and the same motions and you know, people telling… these horrendous ideas of what it might look like,” she said.

“We’ve got little posters around the Aquatic Centre and little bows around trees saying ‘save it’ and it’s like it’s just creating chaos for what? For something that we don’t know anything about.

“If they don’t submit their proposal by that time (December 10) then we can say ‘forget it’.”

Discussions to replace the ageing Adelaide Aquatic Centre in the park lands with a new sport and recreation facility run by the Crows are shrouded in secrecy, with the council claiming it is yet to receive a formal proposal.

The council decided in March to progress the Crows’ bid to stage two of the council’s unsolicited proposals process, which, according to the council, involves “detailed consideration of the feasibility of the proposal, how it will be delivered, and whether it represents value for money”.

North ward councillor Mary Couros. Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

In a statement to InDaily this morning, Adelaide Football Club CEO Andrew Fagan said the club’s master planning process was “progressing well”.

“We have been engaging with council regularly and look forward to the opportunity to offer an update,” he said.

Area councillor Robert Simms, who opposes the bid alongside fellow councillors Phil Martin and Anne Moran, last night unsuccessfully attempted to amend Couros’ motion, branding it a “giant political stunt”.

“The term ‘state of the art’ Adelaide Aquatic Centre is the term that is used in the Adelaide Crows’ own press release when they announced their plans, so by inserting that phrase into the consultation what councillor Couros is doing is actually tailoring the consultation to try and get a particular outcome,” he said.

“It’s manufacturing consent in that way.”

I would go to death before I apologise to you

Simms won support from Moran, who admitted during the meeting it was she who first suggested that the council approach the Crows to build a new facility to replace the ageing and costly Aquatic Centre.

“I moved the motion that we approach the Adelaide Football Club that was looking for a new home and wanted to sell and I said rather jokingly… let’s see if the Crows are dumb enough to take over the management of our Aquatic Centre,” she said.

“I never envisaged that it would turn into this monster.

“It’s bit us in the proverbial badly.”

Moran said councillors had seen concept plans from the Crows that were “quite beautiful”.

“They were quite nice plans and the things we saw, in my estimation… people that care about the park lands, would think they’re quite acceptable,” she said.

Area councillor Anne Moran. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

But Deputy Lord Mayor Houssam Abiad, who at the end of this month will relinquish his position to south ward councillor Alexander Hyde, said Simms, Moran and Martin “all suck” and were “not effective as councillors”.

“I don’t trust those councillors,” he said.

“They will do everything they can with monkey organisations on the outside to make sure that process doesn’t happen.”

Martin asked Abiad to apologise for comments he made about whether anyone had seen the Crows’ concept plans.

“I will never apologise to you in my life,” Abiad responded.

“I would go to death before I apologise to you.”

Martin later criticised Couros’ motion, claiming the December 10 deadline was too close to Christmas and would lead to less public scrutiny of the plans.

“This is great news that so much information, so many reports are coming to us for our last meeting on December 10 just before Christmas so we can release information and people can not be informed because they’ll be on holidays,” he said.

“There is a done deal that is being presented to the people of South Australia on the 10th.”

I’ve got so much to take to the Ombudsman

But Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor, who chastised Martin on several occasions throughout the meeting for interrupting her, denied a “done deal” had been made.

“We will be going to the people of South Australia and asking them what they think but we haven’t yet received a proposal, and when we receive the proposal we will go to the people of South Australia and ask them what they think,” she said.

Further jibing from Moran prompted Couros to make an impassioned speech criticising Moran, Simms and Martin for playing “political games”.

“Grow up,” she said.

“You are all fake all three of you.”

Her comments can be heard here:


Moran told the chamber: “I’ve got so much to take to the Ombudsman”.

The council’s CEO Mark Goldstone said a “needs analysis” commissioned by the council to assess the current usage of the Adelaide Aquatic Centre was progressing in a “reasonable way”.

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