Crows administration in Park 2?

#StandWithDenise to stop the commercial takeover of Denise Norton Park

The City Council has spent most of 2019 locked in secret meetings with the Adelaide Football Club, endeavouring to come up with a plan that it can push onto the public, for having the Crows establish their headquarters in Denise Norton Park / Pardipardinyilla (Park 2, pictured above).

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The Lord Mayor of Adelaide, Sandy Verschoor has responded to our campaign #StandWithDenise in an interview on 891 ABC Adelaide.

The Lord Mayor spent much of the interview re-iterating what we have characterised in our video as "Excuse #3" - that the Council is following what it claims is a "proper process".

Importantly, in response to questioning from David Bevan, the Lord Mayor confirmed that in the Council's "very clear" "Guiding Principles" the Crows had not been given any restriction on the number or types of business that they might operate in Park Lands, nor any limit on the height of the building that they might erect, nor any prohibition on fencing their training ovals.

You can stream or download the Lord Mayor's interview below: (MP3 audio file, 13min 37s, 12.4 Mb)

Towards the end of the interview, in response to questioning from David Bevan the Lord Mayor said "one would hope" that the Crows would know that "there's no Council that would ever approve fencing off of Park Lands." This would be a big surprise not just to the Crows but also to the Adelaide Bowling Club, the Adelaide Hockey Club, the SA Cricket Association, and the Memorial Drive Tennis Club, who’ve been permitted to fence off large areas of Parks 14, 20, 25 and 26 respectively. The Council's own Guiding Principles for the Crows do not rule this out for Denise Norton Park.

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Here are the things that the Council's Guiding Principles DO NOT COVER - the things that (so far) the Council has refused to even put out for public feedback:

  • An increase in car parking;

  • Any limit on building height;

  • New roadways into Park 2;

  • Removal of trees;

  • New fences to protect designated training fields;

  • High-powered floodlighting for training fields;

  • Cafes, bars and/or restaurants, competing against North Adelaide businesses;

  • A Crows shop selling fan merchandise;

  • A sports medicine clinic to compete with other clinics in commercial locations;

  • The cost of pool access for school, club and community swim events;

  • Any pool access for learn-to-swim classes;

  • Child care at the Aquatic Centre;

  • A private members-only gym; and

  • Facilities priced much higher than the Council currently charges.

Who else HAS concerns?

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  • Graham Cornes (The Advertiser, 7 December 2018): "To give the Crows what they want, and indeed need, would take too big a chunk out of the Park Lands which belong to all South Australians. If the Crows are to move it must be to an area that is already used as a football ground and has room to expand"

  • Peter Goers (Sunday Mail, 21 September 2019): "Imagine the outcry if any other corporation was given the same slice of parklands and $15 million of taxpayers’ money"

  • Jane Lomax-Smith, former Lord Mayor and Member for Adelaide: "Surely this City Council does not want to go down in history as the one that sold our parklands and removed a public amenity for the benefit of a private development. This is worse than spineless - it is duplicitous.”

  • Mark Hamilton, former Deputy Lord Mayor and 2018 Lord Mayoral candidate: “This would be the worst alienation of Park Land for generations, undertaken by the very body which has been the traditional protector of the Park Lands. The AFL’s approach should have been perfunctorily rejected.”

  • Denise Norton, SA’s first female Olympian: “Really they're just buying the Park Lands - and the Park Lands are NOT for sale. They belong to the people of Adelaide.”

  • Former Deputy Premier Ralph Clarke has launched a blistering attack on the "claptrap" and "mealy-mouthed platitudes" that have come from the City Council as it attempts to satisfy "a profit-driven commercial behemoth". Mr Clarke's letter of 9 September 2019 to all Adelaide City Councillors is a delight for Park Lands supporters. Read it in full here.

  • The Advertiser's football writer, Michelangelo Rucci (10 September, 2019) has opined that: "while there is public land and public money involved in the plan to build a $60-65 million facility to house the Crows administration and training facility at the north parklands, there should not be closed meetings and confidential red tape."

  • Former Senator Chris Schacht, a long-time Crows member, has also pointed out that the Crows are not a "club" in the normal sense of that word, but rather a franchise that is wholly controlled by the Melbourne-based AFL Commission. Thousands of Crows members have no say in the running of the "club". Listen to his analysis on 891 ABC Adelaide at this link: (13Mb MP3 file)

  • Andrew Faulkner (City Messenger, 16 October 2019) “Tourists not dissuaded by our appalling marketing gaze in wonder at our heritage buildings, when they're not ambling through the priceless asset that is the City Parklands. We do a great job of apearing to loathe the very things that they love.”

  • Mike Duigan former State MP for Adelaide: “Such a proposition is an outrage and a total abnegation of the Council’s obligation and legislative imperative to protect and preserve the parklands for future generations. It should call a halt to all these so called “overtures” and “negotiations”. The Council has not sought to canvas any other options or expressions of interest and is dealing solely, quietly and surreptitiously with the private commercial club.



WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE COUNCIL’S “GUIDING PRINCIPLES”?

  • The Guiding Principles are merely the “foot in the door” - the initial conditions under which the current Council might allow the Crows to establish their operations in this Park. Once a new building was established, any restrictions in these Guiding Principles would be irrelevant and the Crows would be expected to keep pushing for expanded operations and/or fewer restrictions.

  • The Guiding Principles ignore the Council's own Community Land Management Plan for Park 2. What use is having a legal plan for community land if you discard it as soon as someone offers you a deal?

  • The Guiding Principles ignore the Council's duty to consider other options for the Aquatic Centre. Should it be re-developed? Should it become an outdoor pool? Should it be fully or partly subsidised? Should it be operated as a joint venture with any other organisation? No, the only option on the table is selling out to the Crows.

  • The Guiding Principles reject a permanent liquor license, but leave open the possibility of liquor licensing for events, e.g. every game day. The Crows would be expected to keep pushing successive Councils to remove restrictions on liquor licensing.

  • The Guiding Principles don't say anything about the permitted height, bulk or scale of what the Adelaide Football Club might want to build. To reduce the “footprint” of the Aquatic Centre (that's the main part of the price) then the only way all of the Council's wish list can be accommodated is if a new building is of multiple stories. It's likely the price offered will be a building of at least three or four stories, with separate levels for car parking, Crows administration, function room (aka Crows "shed"), private training rooms; a gym; education rooms, etc.

  • The Guiding Principles require only one floor, with swimming pools, to be offering any public services, so something like this would comply with the Council’s wishes, although it could be spread much wider, over a site almost as large as the Adelaide Convention Centre.

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Who voted for this? These seven Councillors approved the Guiding Principles and rejected an alternative motion to consult the public first:

What can you do?

Contribute to Denise Norton’s fundraising campaign to help more people understand what’s at stake

Contribute to Denise Norton’s fundraising campaign to help more people understand what’s at stake

Secondly, tell the seven City Councillors (pictured above) to halt the process immediately, to protect the Adelaide Park Lands. Contact a Councillor now, before it's too late.

Here are relevant email addresses:

a.abrahimzadeh@cityofadelaide.com.au
f.knoll@cityofadelaide.com.au
m.couros@Cityofadelaide.com.au
h.abiad@cityofadelaide.com.au
s.hou@cityofadelaide.com.au
j.khera@cityofadelaide.com.au
a.hyde@cityofadelaide.com.au

Not forgetting of course, a similar message to the Adelaide Football Club CEO, Andrew Fagan: crows@afc.com.au

Letters and emails are most effective when they are personally written, not merely copied and pasted. But if you're time poor, here’s a succinct message that you might wish to convey to each of the seven above:


"The world-unique and National Heritage-listed Adelaide Park Lands are not the appropriate venue for any corporate headquarters nor professional sport training facility. Please ensure that the Adelaide Crows locate their proposed headquarters and administration at a suburban football ground, or on land that is zoned commercial. Such a building does not belong on the irreplaceable Adelaide Park Lands. The Park Lands are held on trust for the public, not for corporations."


The dissenters

Only these four Councillors (below) thought that the public should be consulted before the Adelaide Football Club was invited to draw up expensive plans to fit the Guiding Principles. You might like to contact these Councillors to give them your congratulations and encourage them.


BACKGROUND

The Adelaide Football Club formally approached the City Council on 19 February 2019 with what the Council calls an “unsolicited bid”.

Only four days later, on 23 February, the Council held a secret meeting to consider the bid. Two weeks later the Council CEO was authorised to enter a “Participation Framework Agreement”, still subject to secrecy.

However, the secret talks were leaked to the media. On 30 March 2019 the Adelaide Football Club CEO Andrew Fagan confirmed that the club wanted to build, on Park Lands, new "training and administration headquarters". He welcomed $15 million that was offered by the Federal Government.

The Crows desired site currently hosts the Adelaide Aquatic Centre, and sports grounds used by Blackfriars Priory College and other community and casual groups.

There is a Park Lands Management Strategy, endorsed by both the Council and the State Government. No part of that strategy envisages a multi-million dollar sports franchise having its administration headquarters in Park 2.

The Council will develop, eventually, what it calls an “extensive communication and engagement strategy”. But it did not consult the public in drawing up the Guiding Principles, and it is still not willing to discuss with the public whether it should even be entertaining a bid for a corporate takeover of Park Lands.