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Adelaide Council backtracks to support arena project

The South Australian Government’s bid to develop a new arena in Adelaide has been boosted after the City Council reversed track on their opposition to the controversial project.

South Australia Premier Steven Marshall, of the Liberal party, unveiled plans for the new 15,000-capacity arena back in March. The venue, which marked Marshall’s first major pitch ahead of next year’s state elections, is expected to cost around A$662m (£360.6m/€421.5m/$488.1m) and would replace the existing Adelaide Entertainment Centre.

The arena would be capable of hosting concerts, conventions and court sports, including basketball, netball and tennis. Adelaide Entertainment Centre currently has a total capacity of 11,300, with only 9,600 for basketball and netball, and construction of the new arena had been pencilled in to commence when major works for a new Women’s and Children’s Hospital are estimated to conclude in 2025.

However, the project has been met with opposition, with South Australia’s Labor party in June stating it will scrap the venture if it wins next year’s election. Adelaide City Council last month voted against the Riverbank Arena, which is intended to be developed on a 71-hectare parcel of land at Helen Mayo Park.

Local media outlet CityMag reports that city councillors have now voted six to five in favour of the project after one of their number, Alexander Hyde, decided he no longer had an “actual” conflict of interest in the matter.

The renewed vote was proposed by Councillor Jessy Khera, who put forward the motion calling for the City of Adelaide to rescind its rejection a fortnight ago of the proposed arena. The motion was approved on the basis that the development would not result in a net loss of park lands.

Hyde, a Liberal party staffer and councillor, had excused himself from last month’s debate. However, CityMag stated that during the latest debate, Hyde said he had received formal advice indicating “at worst” he had a “perceived conflict of interest” and he would remain in the chamber and vote. In the end his vote proved decisive.

Councillor Anne Moran, who voted against the project, said the “only thing” that had changed in the fortnight since the revocation motion was the voting numbers, with majority voting bloc Team Adelaide able to be present in “full numbers”. 

“There’s nothing else that’s changed in two weeks,” she added. “We were lauded when we made that decision. It wasn’t poorly drafted. It was a simple ‘no’ to the largest building pretty much ever seen on the park lands.

“We are not a local branch of the Liberal Party. Councillor Hyde might be, but the rest of us aren’t supposed to be.”

Image: Steven Marshall (Facebook)