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Extended hours for RCC's return to Victoria Square

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The RCC – formerly Royal Croquet Club – will be allowed to trade until midnight on weekends upon its return to Victoria Square during this year’s Fringe festival, after the Adelaide City Council made a last-minute decision to scrap its previously sanctioned 10pm curfew.

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At a special meeting last Wednesday, the city council unanimously voted to allow the RCC to trade until 11pm on Monday to Thursday nights, and 12am on Friday and Saturday nights.

However, the council has ordered the RCC to turn down amplified music at 10.30pm on Sunday to Thursday nights, and 11.30pm on weekend nights.

It has also ordered the venue organiser, Momentarily PTY LTD, to provide businesses around Victoria Square with information about the event and to offer them the opportunity to partner with them.

It comes after the council voted earlier last month to only allow the RCC to trade until 10pm every night, following concerns the Fringe venue would lure customers away from nearby bricks-and-mortar businesses and potential loud noise would disrupt guests at surrounding hotels.

The Royal Croquet Club was previously held in Victoria Square from 2014 to 2016 under the ownership and management of now-liquated company Adelaide CC Pty Ltd – originally Royal Croquet Club Adelaide Pty Ltd.

It was shifted to Pinky Flat next to the Torrens in 2017, following criticism from neighbouring businesses that it was getting an unfair trading advantage by using prime public land during February and March, as well as concerns the event damaged the grass on Victoria Square.

From 2019, it relocated to the University of Adelaide’s North Terrace campus, holding two Fringe festivals in and around the Cloisters building before the university announced in November that its arrangement with the event organisers had come to an end.

In a report to the council, staff wrote that some public feedback reiterated discontent about the 2021 RCC event being held once again in Victoria Square.

But they described this year’s RCC as a “different event offering” that would be owned and managed by a different company.

“To address this feedback, we recommend limiting the hours of operation to 10pm each night for the duration of the event,” staff wrote.

All councillors, except Simon Hou and Anne Moran, approved a 10pm curfew at the December 15 meeting.

At Wednesday’s special meeting Deputy Lord Mayor Mary Couros convinced all councillors in attendance to instead allow trading up to midnight, following further discussions with Momentarily Pty Ltd.

“It was very important for the organisers of this to have this done today – they couldn’t wait any later because of organising the event – it’s getting very tight,” she told the meeting.

Couros told InDaily that due to COVID-19 restrictions, the RCC was required to hold two acts for shows each night, to ensure social distancing.

She said the requirement to hold two sittings meant the event could not feasibly run until 10pm.

“The RCC is not going to be the same as it was before because of COVID restrictions,” she said.

“Obviously we all care about our bricks and mortar businesses because they have suffered a lot during the COVID year, but talking to the proponent they have assured us that they won’t be having the same high capacity and it won’t have the same style as it was before.”

This year’s RCC will run on the southern end of Victoria Square from February 19 to March 21.

Council staff described the event as “scaled-down” compared to previous years, with an open-air circus stage, an “artistically immersive create space” and local food and beverage offerings.

The event has applied for a 3000-person liquor licence capacity.

Couros said the council would work with the RCC to ensure surrounding businesses benefited from the event, such as offering discounts for people to stay at nearby hotels after attending shows.

She said the council had “extensively” consulted with businesses before deciding to extend the RCC trading curfew.

“Everyone can benefit from activating the area,” she said.

Councillors Helen Donovan, Greg Mackie, Phil Martin, Robert Simms and Anne Moran did not attend Wednesday’s meeting.

Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor described the extended trading hours as a “win-win situation”.

“Let’s hope fingers crossed that all goes well in Victoria Square and everybody is very happy with the result,” she said.

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