Locals clash with mayor over Crows’ Thebarton Oval move

There were fiery exchanges at a community meeting on a proposed new Crows HQ last night, with locals concerned the plan will see them lose access to open spaces.

Oct 06, 2022, updated Oct 06, 2022
The Crows training at Thebarton Oval during the 2019 preseason. Photo: Sam Wundke / AAP

The Crows training at Thebarton Oval during the 2019 preseason. Photo: Sam Wundke / AAP

About 300 residents attended a community meeting at the Thebarton Community Centre last night, discussing concerns with a proposed lease of council land for the Crows’ multi million dollar new development.

The Crows announced in August they had settled on the Torrensville site as the home for a new $75m to $80m “world class” HQ, featuring two ovals, a standalone AFLW facility, an “interactive museum”, café and a new council community hub.

One of the ovals to be developed would be located on Kings Reserve, adjacent to Thebarton Oval, which is currently an open community space.

SANFL currently hold the lease on Thebarton Oval.

The City of West Torrens has opened a four-week public consultation period on the Crows’ proposed lease which is due to end on October 14.

Speaking in an open forum, residents raised their concerns with Mayor Michael Coxon.

“Why are we in a rush, October 14 is so soon, I believe we are rushing things without giving people the opportunity to comment on it personally,” a resident said.

Mayor of the City of West Torrens Michael Coxon addresses the community over the proposed Adelaide Crows Headquarters. Picture Jason Katsaras/InDaily

Mayor Michael Coxon told the busy hall that the foundations for the potential deal can be traced back to a council resolution in 2020.

“Council made that resolution unanimously to support in principle a move of the Adelaide Crows to create a new home at the Thebarton Oval precinct,” Coxon said.

“That was a council resolution almost two years ago – this matter has been in the public domain for two years.”

Coxon said no lease will be entered into with the Adelaide Football Club until all stages of community consultation are being completed, assessed and agreed to by council.

“Unless there is sufficient support for at least in the first instance, the cost of a master plan which is envisaged to be in the order of $1 million would not be required,” he said.

“It is not every day at this Council in its 169-year history has had an $80 million project on the desk of the Council for consideration.”

Another resident and business owner Chris, asked the Mayor why the proposed rent to be paid by the Adelaide Football Club is ‘so low’.

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The proposal would see the Adelaide Football Club pay around $20,250 per year in rent and council rates for the first decade, before increasing.

“Over the next 42 years, the revenue the council is expected to receive from this proposal is in the order of 9.35 milion,” Coxon said.

“It’s really important to know the amount of investment by Adelaide football Club in this precinct is likely to be in the order of $45 million.”

“What that means is that you we don’t have that financial burden of that redevelopment and it’s passed on to another party.”

An email sent to around 63,000 Crows members inviting them to have a say in the initial consultation yesterday also attracted the ire of community members in the City of West Torrens Council, who say it may encourage members to interfere with the community consultation.

“I found the email quite concerning, I think that that process should be available to people who are going to be affected in their daily lives by what could happen here,” local resident Margaret Oakland said.

Speaking on ABC radio this morning, Crows chair John Olsen said the email was sent out by the CEO to inform members about the recent trade period among other things.

“The CEO put out a message to our 63,000 members. In the end of that we mentioned there is this opportunity to have their say, my understanding is that the City of West Torrens community members will have a far greater weighting than anyone elsewhere.”

“I think it’s an exaggeration to say that we asked them to flood the site with responses, as you know surveys of this nature usually get a return rate of responses of one,three or five percent.”

Mayor of the City of West Torrens Michael Coxon addresses the community over the proposed Adelaide Crows Headquarters. Picture Jason Katsaras/InDaily

A number of community members at the meeting also voiced concerns the Crows trainings would impact their access to the ovals.

Olsen said on ABC radio that professional players would likely only be training ‘4-6 hours a week’ in business hours on the redeveloped ovals, with the ovals open to the public for all other times.

“People are entitled to have their say, we will take on board their expressions.”

Community feedback on the proposal received by the due date will be delivered to external town planning group, URPS, before being presented to council who will have the final say on the first stage of consultation.

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