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Fence off: Adelaide Comets win approval for park land pitch upgrade

Adelaide Comets Football Club supporters filled Town Hall last night and left with high spirits after Adelaide City Council reversed its earlier rejection of permanent fencing at their Ellis Park home ground.

Feb 28, 2024, updated Feb 28, 2024
The Adelaide Comets with Councillors Arman Abrahimzadeh, Mary Couros and Henry Davis after their Council win. This picture: Helen Karakulak

The Adelaide Comets with Councillors Arman Abrahimzadeh, Mary Couros and Henry Davis after their Council win. This picture: Helen Karakulak

Councillors earlier this month knocked back the club’s request for upgrades to its Ellis Park/Tampawardli home ground, despite the project being funded by an already-approved state government grant. 

The upgrades include installing a permanent 1.1m high fence, with the proposal a source of debate and contention which ended with councillors rejecting the bid – a decision that Premier Peter Malinauskas said was “crazy”.

But after a backlash and debate about community use of and acccess to park lands, the issue was reconsidered at last night’s council meeting.

Adelaide Comets members and supporters filled the public gallery, with the overflow having to sit in another room to watch a live stream of proceedings. 

Before the meeting, a petition organised by the club garnered 1686 signatures urging councillors to support the upgrades, which the club said it had been working on with council administration for two years. 

Club representative Daniel Raschella addressed the meeting and argued for councillors to back the upgrade.

“The ACFC worked tirelessly and collaboratively with the City of Adelaide administration to develop this,” he said. 

“We are constantly taking into account the city’s needs, the requirements of the park lands and the concerns of all park land patrons.”

Comets members and supporters at Town Hall. Photo: Helen Karakulak/InDaily

“This outpouring of support exemplifies the resonance this issue has within our community,” Raschella said. 

“Tampawardli is not just the field, it’s a community hub, a place where families gather, friendships are forged and the spirit of sport comes alive.” 

The motion to approve the facilities was brought back to the council by Councillor Mary Couros, and referred to the previous support the Kadaltilla/Adelaide Park Lands Authority gave the club for the upgrade.  

This club has been under a lot of scrutiny from the moment they became a sports club here on the park lands,” Couros said. 

“I actually place trust in the Adelaide Park Lands Authority… we have yourself Lord Mayor [on the Park Lands Authority] and I know you scrutinise everything that happens on that park land.”

Councillor Philip Martin attempted to amend the motion to require the club to complete a traffic and parking management plan and consult with neighbouring lease/license holders and brick-and-mortar businesses on possible impacts. 

These amendments were not passed and the motion to upgrade the club facilities was passed in its original wording put forward by Couros.

Councillor Carmel Noon also brought a motion to divert the issue back to the City Community Services and Culture Committee for further workshopping, but ultimately voted to approve the upgrade, while councillors Janet Giles, Philip Martin and Deputy Lord Mayor Keiran Snape voted no. 

The facility upgrades will go ahead with the specification that the permanent 1.1m high fencing will have double gates without locks, will remain open on non-game days and have no permanent signage except for directions. 

The temporary outer spectator fence that is part of the upgrades will also only display wayfinding signage, will be stored off-site on non-game days and must be installed no earlier than 24 hours ahead of the first game and removed within 24 hours of the end of the final scheduled game. 

AFTER: The proposed fencing, viewed from West Terrace. This photo: Adelaide Comets via LANDSKAP

The upgrades will allow the club to play Premier League home games, as the club had been forced to rent other sites to compete in the league, at a cost of $35,000 a year.

After the upgrade was approved, state government minister and West Torrens MP Tom Koutsantonis celebrated on X (formerly Twitter).

Sanity has prevailed! The Adelaide Comets can play home games at their home ground! Thanks to all the Adelaide City Councillors that backed this western suburbs volunteer community club. pic.twitter.com/RTUwFxQc86

— Tom Koutsantonis MP (@TKoutsantonisMP) February 27, 2024

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