Funding cloud over ‘megalith’ park lands sport hub

Plans for two-storey sports clubrooms on the southern park lands – described by the Lord Mayor as “colossal” – are in doubt after Adelaide City Council flagged withdrawing around $5m in funding for the project.

May 22, 2023, updated Aug 28, 2023
Concept designs for a proposed two-storey clubrooms in Park 21W (right) to replace the current facilities (left). Images: Google Maps and City of Adelaide

Concept designs for a proposed two-storey clubrooms in Park 21W (right) to replace the current facilities (left). Images: Google Maps and City of Adelaide

The Adelaide Lutheran Sports Club says it has been pushing for more than five years to redevelop its football/cricket grounds in Park 21 West (Golden Wattle Park/Mirnu Wirra) located between South Terrace and Goodwood Road in the southern park lands.

The proposal includes a new two-storey club rooms – featuring more change rooms, new social and commercial space, and an expanded storage area – to replace its current facility near Goodwood Road.

Councillors were told at a committee meeting earlier this month that the redevelopment was “shovel ready” with $2.55m already committed from the state government and the Club.

Concept designs for the proposed two-storey clubrooms in Park 21W. Image: City of Adelaide

But Lord Mayor Jane Lomax-Smith, upon seeing the designs, said she was “shocked” by their size.

“I have to say the thing that has shocked me most is the size of these developments – these are megaliths,” she said on May 2.

“This isn’t a minor park lands restoration.”

On Thursday, during a more than three-hour debate over the council’s 2023/24 budget, council’s City Finance and Governance committee recommended removing a proposed $5.05m budget allocation for the Park 21W masterplan.

The allocation included $150,000 next financial year to investigate how to “de-scale” the clubrooms proposal following the Lord Mayor’s comments, and then $4.9m for future capital works, the council administration said.

Deputy Lord Mayor Phillip Martin, who tabled the motion proposing several changes to the council’s draft budget – including axing the $5.05m for Park 21W – argued tipping in council funds for a sporting facility redevelopment would set a “dangerous precedent”.

“That proposal revolves around a masterplan, but the key part of that masterplan is a large building to be constructed on the park lands which the Lord Mayor has already voiced concerns about in terms of its footprint,” he told councillors.

“But it particularly creates, I think, something of a precedent for this council by proposing that we should allocate funds, yet to be determined, to the sporting club to construct a premises.

“It is a very dangerous precedent in my view, we have not done that before and I believe were we to do so, the queues outside of Town Hall would be a mile long within a month.

“There would be unprecedented pressure on us to do likewise for others.”

Martin told InDaily today that it would also be “grossly unfair to all of the clubs and organisations who have, over the decades, asked and been declined ratepayer funds for their buildings and who have them gone to their communities and raised the necessary funds through their own efforts”.

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Martin’s motion, which also capped rate increases at 10 per cent (down from 15 per cent) and scaled back the council’s budget for upgrading main streets, was supported by all councillors present at the committee meeting except Mary Couros and Henry Davis.

Councillors will vote on Tuesday night whether to adopt the committee’s recommendations.

Overview of a previous council masterplan for Park 21W, including the two-storey clubrooms (6). Image: City of Adelaide

South Ward councillor Mark Siebentritt supported Martin’s overall motion but expressed reservations about not upgrading “degraded” facilities in the park lands.

“I do want to note the significant work that I know has been done by various people interested in Park 21 West,” Siebentritt said.

“And I think we do think we need to recognise that when there’s sporting facilities that are becoming degraded in our park lands, we need to look at ways of supporting those communities.

“But also noting… our best position is we have a motion that goes forward to council for next Tuesday night.”

Martin responded that while council “does have a role”, it should not include “providing a cash grab to an organisation to complete a headquarters, particularly when that position has been stated by previous councils repeatedly”.

Adelaide Lutheran Sports Club has so far raised more than $48,600 to redevelop its Park 21W headquarters, according to its fundraising page.

InDaily contacted the club for comment.

Council administration told a committee meeting earlier this month that the building footprint of the Park 21W clubrooms would increase from 375 square metres to 405 square metres – over two storeys – under the proposed redevelopment.

Organised sport facilities represent 14 per cent of the park lands, with only 2.5 per cent restricting access, according to council data.

Over the last 40 years, the footprint of sporting areas in the park lands has decreased by around 19 per cent, or 28 hectares, although organised sport still accounts for 20 per cent of the approximately nine million visits to the park lands each year.

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