08/02/2016 - 15:52

Sydney firm to run stadium

08/02/2016 - 15:52

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The state government is facing a period of tough negotiations with Perth’s AFL clubs over access to the new Perth Stadium after rejecting a bid by the WA Football Commission to be involved in running the venue.

Sydney firm to run stadium
Perth Stadium is due to be completed in time for the 2018 AFL season, with a capacity of 60,000 seats. Photo: Attila Csaszar

The state government is facing a period of tough negotiations with Perth’s AFL clubs over access to the new Perth Stadium after rejecting a bid by the WA Football Commission to be involved in running the venue.

Stadium Australia Operations, which runs the former Olympic stadium in Sydney, has been named as preferred operator after outgunning three competing bidders.

WAFC chairman Murray McHenry said he was deeply disappointed by the decision, and believed that football and its major international partners had the experience, skills and imagination to operate the new stadium for all Western Australians.

“We are now deeply concerned about the future financial model for WA football because stadium operations have been critical to the development and success of the game,” Mr McHenry said in a statement

“At all times during the development of Perth Stadium the state government has reassured football that the sport will be no worse off as a result of the new venue.

“We now need the government to show how this will be the case in order to safeguard the future of our game.”

Mr McHenry said the decision also presented a range of concerns about the potential user agreements for the state’s two AFL clubs at Perth Stadium, and whether they would generate sufficient returns to sustain football in WA.

Perth Stadium Management, the consortium put together by the WAFC to run Domain Stadium and bid for the rights to run the new stadium, floated the possibility that AFL may continue at Subiaco after the Burswood venue opens in 2018.

“Despite the state’s decision we are committed to running Domain Stadium at the highest level and hosting AFL, entertainment and other major content at the venue into 2018 and beyond,” the group said in a statement.

“Our team will remain focused on giving fans great experiences at Domain Stadium as long as the venue continues to host events.

“We are genuinely concerned about our ability to continue generating vital revenue for WA football into 2018 and beyond as a result of this decision and the impact that will have on the financial future of the sport.”

Announcing the decision today, Premier Colin Barnett said Stadium Australia Operations – the operating arm of Stadium Australia Group, which manages ANZ Stadium in Sydney – had put forward “significantly the best proposal”.

“Out of this contract when it’s finalised, there will be a profit-sharing arrangement which will see a revenue flow to the state government; out of that we will be able to maintain funding for the WA Football Commission and local football,” Mr Barnett said.

“The final major step will be the finalisation of user agreements with the AFL and cricket, and they are both progressing well.”

The football negotiations will be with the Joint Football Working Group, which was established in early 2012 with representative from the AFL, West Coast Eagles, Fremantle Dockers and the WA Football Commission.

Sport and Recreation Minister Mia Davies said AEG Ogden, which currently manages Perth Arena, has been named as reserve respondent, in the event the government was unable to conclude contract negotiations with Stadium Australia.

The other bidders were Nationwide Venue Management, which is owned by ASX-listed company Spotless, and Perth Stadium Management, which comprises the WA Football Commission, Delaware North, Live Nation and Ticketmaster.

Ms Davies said the proposals had been subject to a detailed three-month evaluation process.

“Stadium Australia was very clearly, in all categories, ahead in terms of what we were looking for,” she told journalists.

Ms Davies said the assessment criteria included attracting events, managing those events, interfacing with key stakeholders, sharing risk, managing conflicts of interest and driving the best outcome for WA taxpayers.

She highlighted the breadth and depth of events Stadium Australia was able to put forward, and their very strong track record of concerts and music events.

“They showed they were prepared to be innovative in attracting events to WA,” Ms Davies said.

The stadium's Project Definition Plan forecasts 32-37 events per year, comprising 10 days of cricket, at least 22 AFL events, plus a mix of soccer, rugby union and rugby league matches, concerts and other entertainment events.

As part of its bid, Stadium Australia Operations proposed strategies to secure a number of additional opportunities to enhance and expand the events program.

Ms Davies said all of the bidders faced conflicts of interest.

“We identified conflicts in all four of the preferred respondents and it was how those respondents put forward strategies to manage those conflicts going forward that gave us confidence SAO was the best one to take forward,” Ms Davies said.

When asked about the future of football, she said the government had a strong track record of supporting AFL in WA at elite and grassroots levels.

“We are very confident this stadium presents a wonderful opportunity for football to continue to grow and thrive and we are not about making it harder for football,’’ Ms Davies said.

Perth Stadium is due to be completed in time for the 2018 AFL season, with a capacity of 60,000 seats.

Stadium Australia Group managing director Daryl Kerry said his company looked forward to working with the WA government and VenuesWest to finalise matters ahead of signing the contract. “Stadium Australia Group is delighted to have been selected as the preferred proponent to operate the magnificent Perth Stadium and Sports Precinct,” Mr Kerry said. “It’s a further evolution of our business, which includes operating Sydney’s Olympic stadium, ANZ Stadium, and providing catering services for ANZ Stadium and a host of other venues." 

Tourism Council WA CEO Evan Hall welcomed the decision, saying the stadium operator needed to have international expertise in sporting, entertainment and cultural events.

“We need an operator that can bring in the big acts like Coldplay, entertainment spectaculars like the Edinburgh Tattoo and international sporting events like Premier League soccer, international rugby and major league baseball,” Mr Hall said.

“The best stadium operator is the one that brings the best events to the venue, not an operator that favours a particular sporting code.” 

 

 

The statements issued today by the WAFC chairman Murray McHenry and Perth Stadium Management are pasted in full below:

 

WAFC chairman Murray McHenry

“We are deeply disappointed about this decision and believe that football and its major international partners have the experience, skills and imagination to operate Perth Stadium on behalf of all West Australians.”

“We are now deeply concerned about the future financial model for WA football because stadium operations have been critical to the development and success of the game.”

“At all times during the development of Perth Stadium the state government has reassured football that the sport will be no worse off as a result of the new venue. We now need the government to show how this will be the case in order to safeguard the future of our game.”

“We need the state government to progress discussions on how to preserve football’s financial future as the sport now has no certainty for its future.”

“We will immediately start re-assessing how to sustain the ongoing growth and development of football and its various operations like Auskick, Community Football, WAFL, Female Football, indigenous and multicultural programs.”

“This decision also presents us with a range of concerns about the potential user agreements for our two AFL clubs at Perth Stadium and whether they will generate sufficient returns to sustain football in Western Australia.”

Perth Stadium Management spokesman

“We are deeply disappointed with the decision and still strongly believe that PSM is best placed to run Perth Stadium because of our local experience and the skills of our international partners.

“While we have not tendered for our stadium business before we believe PSM clearly demonstrated its skills and experience in managing a major stadium and are disappointed that we have not had an opportunity to discuss this in detail with government during the submission process.

“Despite the state’s decision we are committed to running Domain Stadium at the highest level and hosting AFL, entertainment and other major content at the venue into 2018 and beyond.

“Our team will remain focused on giving fans great experiences at Domain Stadium as long as the venue continues to host events.”

“We are genuinely concerned about our ability to continue generating vital revenue for WA football into 2018 and beyond as a result of this decision and the impact that will have on the financial future of the sport.”

 

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