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Crows pass on “headline-grabbing” park lands HQ debate

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Adelaide Football Club CEO Andrew Fagan has declined an invitation to speak at a public debate about the club’s plan to redevelop the ageing Aquatic Centre, branding the event a “headline-grabbing and point-scoring exercise” by park lands advocates.

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The debate, to be held on February 12 at the North Adelaide Community Centre, has been organised by the Adelaide Park Lands Preservation Association (APPA) – a staunch opponent of the Crows’ proposal to replace the 50-year-old Aquatic Centre in Park 2 with a $65 million new training and administration centre.

In a statement to InDaily, Fagan said the Adelaide Football Club had been “committed to having thorough and meaningful conversations” since it first approached the Adelaide City Council with the proposal, but had chosen to decline APPA’s invitation to participate in the debate.

“We are currently in a formal public consultation process and have chosen to not participate in what appears to be a headline grabbing and point scoring exercise,” he said.

“However, we look forward to hearing and seeing the feedback that comes through the council-led consultation.

“We are also happy to personally meet with anyone, including representatives from the Adelaide Parklands Preservation Association.

“This allows us to genuinely discuss our proposal and consider feedback that we can possibly include in our planning.”

Confirmed speakers are vocal opponents of the Crows’ proposal, including former Lord Mayor Jane Lomax-Smith, APPA president Shane Sody and Ingrid Wangel, who is representing former Olympian Denise Norton, after whom Park 2 is named.

Norton, 86, has said she will stand in front of bulldozers to halt the Crows building on the site.

Former Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood will moderate the debate.

A Facebook event advertising the debate states APPA is approaching “several high-profile people who have been advocating in public for this proposal, so that we can have a balanced debate”.

“The debate will go ahead without the AFC’s direct involvement,” the event description states.

“The event is timed to allow you to hear both sides of the issue before giving your views to the city council.”

Sody rejected Fagan’s claim that the debate would be a “headline grabbing and point scoring exercise”, saying it would provide the public “on both sides of the fence” the opportunity to ask questions.

“We were offering the Crows a chance to respond to the public because after all, they are asking for public land,” he said.

“There would be a lot of people who are undecided who would be in attendance, so it would be an opportunity to hear both sides.

“I would be expecting – hoping in fact – that there would be a mixed audience that supports either side.”

A render of the Adelaide Football Club’s proposed “sport and community centre” in the park lands. Image: Adelaide Football Club

The council’s 10-week public consultation on the plan, conducted via a survey on its “Your Say” website – closes on February 19.

Questions ask for general feedback on the Crows’ proposal and whether it aligns with the council’s “guiding principles” – a set of five guidelines developed earlier in the year that stipulate the size, community access and service offering of a proposed new centre run by the Crows.

The council’s administration will review feedback before a report is presented to councillors by the end of March.

The Crows claim their proposal would return over 6000-square metres to the park lands and would be split into three sections: the club’s training and administration area, an education zone from which the club would run its community programs and a public aquatic space that the club would use “on an occasional hire basis”.

It would reach a maximum height of 16-metres – compared to the current centre’s 21-metre height – and would be surrounded by 750 linear metres of new paths and 400 linear metres of resurfaced paths for “increased connectivity” with O’Connell Street.

Under the club’s plan, existing ovals on Barton Terrace West would be upgraded to a new “high-quality, AFL-standard” oval similar to Adelaide Oval, while the ovals on Park 2 would remain untouched and unfenced.

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