SMA’s high flying plans over River Torrens revealed by SA-BEST

5 February 2019

The Stadium Management Authority (SMA) – the private entity that operates Adelaide Oval - has aggressive expansion plans which include an adrenalin-pumping flying fox ride from the roof of the Riverbank Stand across the River Torrens to Elder Park.

The revelation was confirmed today after questioning from SA-BEST MLC Frank Pangallo on the opening day of a Select Committee on the Redevelopment of Adelaide Oval.

“Make no mistake, the SMA’s aggressive expansion plans to make a buck don’t stop with its bid to build a hotel at Adelaide Oval,” Frank said.

“The SMA has commenced initial discussions with Adelaide City Council to have a flying fox from one of its grandstands across the River Torrens, which was confirmed by the Council’s lawyer at today’s hearing,” he said.

“This is in addition to the SMA’s high-risk, speculative, non-core rooftop walk and elitist golf driving range from one of its grandstand rooves.

“Apparently the flying fox will end in front of the Festival Theatre - where the SMA now has the food and beverage rights – or the Adelaide Convention Centre.

“This will clearly compete with other cafes, hotels and entertainment facilities in the area.”

The Committee was also told the Adelaide Oval hotel operation – once built – was likely to run at a loss of about $2 million in its first three years.

Prominent property/hotel developer and restaurateur, John Culshaw, of the Culshaw Group, told the Committee the favourable treatment the SMA is receiving – including not having to pay Council rates or land tax - would eventually make the hotel viable but would do little to boost business in struggling O’Connell and Melbourne streets which he conceded were dying.

He also said other property developers were upset at the concessions given to the SMA in its bid to build the hotel, which in its own submission now has grown in size from 128 rooms to 138 rooms.

“The SMA’s contemptuous treatment of Adelaide City Council through a complete lack of proper and detailed consultation is unacceptable and may be in breach of its lease, which requires the Minister to inform Council of any development plans for the Oval and the parklands,” Frank said.

“This secrecy smacks of sneakiness in order to circumvent proper process that is in place to ensure transparency and accountability – and to ensure SA taxpayers are considered,” he said.

“The SMA has proven that it pays to have friends in high places considering the speed in which the development was approved in just nine days!

“What message does this sort of favourable treatment to an aggressive private entity that only represents the interests of football and cricket, and doesn’t pay its proper dues to other commercial businesses wanting to invest and develop properties in Adelaide?

“I imagine following the revelation, the flying fox idea will now bite the dust because this would have been another commercial intrusion into our precious and treasured parklands, which the government appears happy to break up for commercial use.”

The SMA has been invited to give evidence at the next hearing of the Select Committee on 19 February.

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