Coopers Stadium $75m upgrade plan includes covered roof, link to Adelaide Oval, host rugby and Commonwealth Games
Coopers Stadium, as it is now. Picture: SARAH REED. Source: News Limited
COOPERS Stadium would become Adelaide’s first covered stadium and its capacity increased to 25,000 spectators under an ambitious $75million plan linking it with the upgraded Adelaide Oval to land the Commonwealth Games.
Both rugby codes also would be enticed to the enclosed, weatherproof stadium in the plan to cement Adelaide as a sports mecca.
Stadium managers Adelaide Entertainment Corporation (AEC) is investigating an option of using a lightweight transparent roof - of similar fabric used in Beijing’s Water Cube - to protect spectators from the elements.
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The upgraded, covered stadium would be pivotal to government plans to bid for the Commonwealth Games.
While a government investment would be needed for the roof, AEC sees the stadium as a future profit maker.
A rugby World Cup match at Otago Stadium, Dunedin in New Zealand. Photo: Chris Sullivan
AEC runs the neighboring Adelaide Entertainment Centre at a profit, with no call on taxpayer subsidies, and already has plugged the ongoing money drain of Coopers Stadium under Government management into plans for a profit by the end of 2014-15.
The proposed ETFE (ethylene tetrafluroe) roof being investigated is the same material used on the large dome at the front of the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.
AEC executives says the facility is becoming outdated and the State Government will need to decide if it is to remain South Australia’s home of rectangular sports and so redevelop the facility, or look to build a new stadium on a new site.
They now are investigating the merits of increasing shade protection for fans, enlarging the pitch by 7m to attract rugby codes and increasing capacity from its present 17,000 up to 25,000.
One option is installing veranda roofs over the grandstands, increasing the size of one of the existing grandstands and building additional seating in the vacant corners of the stadium.
The more ambitious option is to enclose the stadium with a lightweight roof.
AEC chief executive Anthony Kirchner stressed the investigations are at a very early stage, with no firm costings and no plan yet put to the State Government.
“We are looking at a whole range of concepts but this is very much in its infancy,” he said.
“AEC has already earmarked $4 million in upgrades to Coopers Stadium over the next two years but at some point there is going to be the need for a more significant investment to make sure the stadium remains relevant and marketable. We are looking at options.”
Mr Kirchner recently visited Dunedin at the request of the AEC board to examine the Forsyth Barr Stadium, which has a ETFE roof.
The stadium’s roof collects water to irrigate the pitch comprised of real grass strengthened by synthetic grass fibres. The lightweight roof has gaps at the top to allow air flow and the stadium is generally about 3-4C warmer than the outside temperature.
Mr Kirchner said while the Dunedin roof was 100 per cent transparent, an Adelaide roof may be 50 per cent transparent to reflect heat and would need careful design to ensure player and spectator comfort in summer.
AEC estimates an ETFE roof would cost around $45 million, with another $30 million needed for seating capacity improvements.
If no upgrades go ahead, it estimates the cost of a brand new 25,000 seat rectangular stadium to be in excess of $250 million.
Since taking over management of the stadium from the State Government in July, AEC has slashed the regular $500,000 a year loss to an expected $250,000 this financial year and expects to be profitable by the end of 2014-15.
It has signed Coopers as major naming rights sponsor for five years and the $4 million it is investing comes from profits from the Adelaide Entertainment Centre rather than from taxpayers.
These improvements include new seats, more food and beverage outlets, new lift, new dressing rooms and general maintenance.
Adelaide United is the ground’s core tenant and their hiring agreement is ‘widely regarded as the best stadium deal of any A-League franchise’ according to a report by consultants KPMG into the stadium arrangements.
AEC is taking a conservative approach to Adelaide United’s hiring fees but says the current arrangements are not commercially sustainable.
The option of covering Coopers Stadium may depend on Adelaide’s proposed bid for the Commonwealth Games and its success in enticing other professional sports.
As reported by The Advertiser in November, AEC is in talks with the NRL to lure a Sydney rugby league team to Hindmarsh for up to five games a season, making Adelaide a second home in the way AFL’s Hawthorn regularly plays in Tasmania.
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