SCG makeover puts more bums on seats

Austadiums   |  Friday 26th May 2006

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A $60 million grandstand will be built on the old Sydney Cricket Ground Hill in a redevelopment that will also turn the gold members' car park into homes, offices and shops.

State Parliament agreed yesterday to amend the laws governing the site, allowing the SCG Trust to develop the land with private developers.

The first stage of the trust's plan will be replacing the Doug Walters Stand and the Hill with a modern grandstand that will add an extra 2800 seats to the SCG.

"The new stand will be one metre higher than the rooftops of the adjoining stands," the trust's chairman, Rodney Cavalier said. "It will have dining rooms and all the modern comforts expected these days."

However, the stand would still feature a large ground-floor concourse, the "outer", for the cheaper seats.

Work will begin after the Ashes series in February.

Mr Cavalier said the trust had not decided on the name of the new stand. "But our respect and affection for Doug Walters is profound. He's honoured in our walk of honour."

The trust appears to have abandoned earlier ideas of building homes into the stand, or a tall pencil building on the triangle of land behind, which could have been a hotel.

That parcel known as site B is likely to be developed in the future as a retail area, providing access from Fox studios. The historic scoreboard will be moved to the Paddington Street entrance, and new scoreboards will be installed at the middle of the field on the Dally Messenger and Brewongle stands.

But the more controversial part of the plan is site A, the gold members' car park, which is about the size of the neighbouring Aussie Stadium.

It will now be available for commercial redevelopment, including creating residential and office buildings and retail.

Mr Cavalier said the number of parking spaces now available to members would be retained, either above or below ground as part of the redevelopment.

He said the trust planned to test the market "to see what we can fit in", but he doubted a high rise would be permitted, given the height of surrounding buildings.

Final approval over the site rests with the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation, Sandra Nori, and the Minister for Planning, Frank Sartor.

Ms Nori came under fire yesterday over the plans at a caucus meeting, with one MP, Paul Pearce, describing them as "bloody stupid" and a "get Clover re-elected" bill. She replied that the SCG's public and corporate facilities needed upgrading. She told caucus that under the SCG bill no tourist or visitor accommodation would be allowed on the southern half of the land, which includes the SCG.

Residential development over the whole site would also be banned, except on the site of the gold members' car park.

Ms Nori told caucus the trust was planning to seek expressions of interest from commercial parties to redevelop the two sites, and this was consistent with its draft master plan.

The trust has spent $160 million of its own funds on capital works over the past 20 years but has lowered its debt over the past 15 years from $62 million to $6.9 million, according to a trust statement released last night.

It would have been debt free in three years, but would now spend afresh on the new grandstand, the statement said.

Debra Jopson & Anne Davies
Sydney Morning Herald

 

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