Proposed $1.3 billion riverbank complex to host concerts and sports such as soccer, basketball
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Rival plans for multipurpose, roofed stadiums are vying for State Government backing to house major concerts, soccer, basketball, tennis and other court sports in Adelaide’s Riverbank precinct at a cost of up to $1.3 billion.
The Sunday Mail can reveal a previous plan for a $200 million Memorial Drive upgrade has been expanded under a business case developed for Adelaide Oval’s Stadium Management Authority, to match a separate proposal for the city railyards.
It is understood the tennis centre upgrade plan, which would involve closing War Memorial Drive to through traffic, is being pitched as significantly cheaper than the rival proposal for Adelaide’s railyards, which would cost between $900 million and upwards of $1 billion.
The railyards proposal also involves a multipurpose arena, but south of the River Torrens and west of the Morphett St bridge, with various configurations for concerts, conventions, events, tennis, basketball and soccer – the latter with a retractable grass pitch.
The Sunday Mail has been told this plan includes a major commercial precinct, likely to include a hotel, medical research centres, outlet shops and short-stay accommodation servicing the nearby Royal Adelaide Hospital and SAHMRI.
The plan is backed by the Adelaide Venue Management Corporation (AVMC), which operates the Adelaide Convention Centre, Entertainment Centre and Coopers (Hindmarsh) Stadium. Costs of both proposals would be defrayed by selling off the latter two.
During the week, Premier Steven Marshall put a multipurpose stadium at the heart of the Government’s agenda for the next two years, detailed at State Parliament’s opening in the Governor’s speech, which said: “My Government is actively planning additional major inner-city and sporting entertainment infrastructure.”
Mr Marshall later told The Advertiser “all options” were on the table but soccer was “definitely a priority for us” and the plan was not “particularly limited to one sport”.
A business case for the Memorial Drive redevelopment is being prepared by consultants Mott MacDonald, which provided detailed design and project management throughout the development and construction of the $535 million Adelaide Oval upgrade.
It is understood to involve a substantial overhaul of the $200 million Memorial Drive upgrade plans for a 10,000-seat arena unveiled in 2016, which did not include soccer or concerts. Various configurations are still being examined.
It is pitched as offering the same facilities as the rival plan for a lower cost and does not involve redeveloping the area west of Montefiore Rd, thus encroaching on North Adelaide Golf Club’s southeastern tip.
The Memorial Drive redevelopment is likely to be contingent on scrapping some Adelaide City Council leases, including with the Next Gen gym. Recreation and Sport Minister Corey Wingard would not comment on either proposal but said a State Sport and Recreation Infrastructure Plan detailing required upgrades to sporting facilities would be released within weeks.
“There’s a focus on big stadiums – there always is – but we’ll also be looking at what options there are for middle-tier and grassroots facilities,” he said.
Adelaide Oval management was approached for comment but there was no response. The SMA’s deputy chairman, former premier and state Liberal Party president John Olsen, in 2018 urged consolidation of tennis, soccer, basketball and the Entertainment Centre in the Memorial Drive precinct.
At the time, he said the cost would be reduced by using the Oval’s security, food, beverage, kitchens and other facilities.
Funding details are still being assessed, by consultants Aurecon, for the rival AVMC proposal, revealed by The Advertiser in 2018. AVMC chairman Bill Spurr, a member of Mr Marshall’s six-person Economic Advisory Council, said: “It’s too early at this stage for us to comment.”
An Opposition spokesman said Mr Marshall had provided few details so it was hard to judge the plans.
“There’s no plan, there’s no artist’s impressions, there’s no cost estimate, there’s no site, there’s not even any detail about which sports this venue will host,” he said.
The competing plans
■ City railyards site, south of River Torrens, west of Morphett St bridge
■ Total cost between $900 million and upwards of $1 billion.
■ Roofed, multipurpose arena housing concerts, conventions, events, tennis, basketball, netball and soccer, the latter with a retractable grass pitch.
■ Redevelopment includes commercial precinct, built-over railyards, likely including hotel, medical research, outlet shops, short-stay accommodation servicing nearby hospital and SAHMRI.
■ Cost defrayed by commercial development, plus sale of Entertainment Centre and Coopers (Hindmarsh) Stadium.
■ Business case being developed by Aurecon for Adelaide Venue Management Corporation, which operates Adelaide Convention Centre, Hindmarsh and Entertainment Centre.
■ Funding being assessed – a possible mix of state and federal funds through extension of the $551 million City Deal, plus State Government debt.
■ Advanced plans for upgrading precinct to house same functions as railyards proposal, including soccer, concerts, events.
■ Various configurations being examined – soccer might not be in main arena.
■ Expected to involve permanently closing War Memorial Drive to through traffic between King William and Montefiore roads.
■ Business case being developed by Mott MacDonald for Adelaide Oval Stadium Management Authority.
■ Expansion of previous vision for Memorial Drive, unveiled in 2016, which included a $200 million multipurpose stadium catering for tennis, netball, basketball and other sports in a 10,000 seat arena.
■ Expected to be significantly cheaper than railyards option although details not known. Cost reduced by using security, food, beverage, kitchens and other facilities at Adelaide Oval.
■ Likely to be contingent on modifying Adelaide City Council leases, including with Next Gen Memorial Drive gym but does not involve redeveloping area west of Montefiore Rd, encroaching on North Adelaide Golf Club’s southeastern tip.