AFL Aussie rules football club the Sydney Swans have entered into a partnership with venue management company Playbill Venues to create a new sporting and entertainment destination for the city.
The two parties will come together as the PlayOn Group to revitalise two heritage buildings, Royal Hall of Industries and Hordern Pavilion, through a Aus$65m (£35m/€39.9m/$45.8m) investment.
The announcement allays local concerns that the two sites would be handed over for sporting and private development only, with Hordern Pavilion a major live music venue in Sydney. With the state government contributing Aus$20m to the project, the Pavilion will receive a renovation to improve the experience for patrons and performers, while offering more flexibility for a wider variety of events and performance options.
The Royal Hall of Industries will become Sydney Swans HQ and Community Centre, home to the AFL team as well as Super Netball club NSW Swifts; Sydney Swans Academy, youth girls’ and boys’ programs; a future Sydney Swans AFLW women’s team; the GO Foundation; Clontarf Foundation and an Australian Red Cross Blood Service donation centre.
The centre will also house a multipurpose indoor function and recreation space, as well as an international standard netball court that will be available for community use.
The Hordern Pavilion won ‘Venue of the Year’ at the inaugural Industry Observer Awards this year through a public vote open to every live venue and voter in Australia. Playbill Group managing director Michael Nebenzahl said: “This is a victory for Australia’s live entertainment scene. As custodians of the Hordern for the past 18 years, we understand it’s an essential part of the social and cultural fabric of our community.
“We have a unique opportunity to protect the future of the Hordern and RHI and set the stage for an exciting new chapter — one that rejuvenates the RHI while retaining the Hordern’s rightful place as an internationally-acclaimed live music and entertainment space.”
At the heart of the project is a shared commitment to ensure long-term public access to the precinct and balance the needs of the community, live entertainment and high-performance sport. The new outdoor entertainment space between the buildings will be connected to Sydney’s light rail to create a new gateway to the Entertainment Quarter.
Swans chief executive and managing director, Andrew Ireland, said the PlayOn Group venture will act to open the buildings up to the community while allowing the team to remain close to their main stadium, Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
Ireland said: “Our vision is to establish a world-class facility that will enable our football club to grow, both through the establishment of a future Sydney Swans women’s team and by expanding on the school and community programs we already deliver.
“Together with the GO Foundation and Clontarf Foundation we hope to provide opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to gain a great education and a clear pathway to employment. It will also strengthen our partnership with the NSW Swifts by bringing football and netball together under the one roof.”
Image: Sydney Swans