Still not viable to reopen Adelaide Convention Centre under current restrictions

The company which runs three major event venues in Adelaide says it will get through the Covid-19 crisis but is not in a position to stage events similar to Saturday’s AFL Showdown at Adelaide Oval as it is not eligible for any government handouts such as JobKeeper.

Adelaide Venue Management Corporation (AVM), which runs the Adelaide Convention Centre, Adelaide Entertainment Centre and Coopers Stadium, has been forced to shut its operations down since March.

“We’re in reasonable shape to get out the other side [of the Covid-19 pandemic] without being a burden on the taxpayer which, if achieved, will be quite extraordinary,” AVM CEO Anthony Kirchner said in a staff email.

“However, it will come at the considerable cost to many of our Event Staff, which is not lost on the AVM Board or me.”

Kirchner attended the Port Adelaide and Crows match held at the Adelaide Oval, which was played in front of 2250 spectators. Despite hopes the successful hosting of the match would see AMVC venues stage similar events, Kirchner said it was not viable without JobKeeper support.

“It was a worthwhile exercise, and AOSMA’s planning and execution of the event was faultless… however the event would have lost tens of thousands of dollars had it not been for the hundreds of AOSMA event staffers being subsidised by the Federal Government’s JobKeeper payment,” he said.

“As you are aware, AVM and more importantly its employees, has been deemed ineligible for JobKeeper, and therefore it would be completely unviable and I would suggest irresponsible for AVM to run a similar event.”

Coopers Stadium is likely to host A-League matches in late July or August, but Kirchner said the current coronavirus restrictions made it difficult to hold “viable events” at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

Under current restrictions the Adelaide Convention Centre would have a capacity “of just 520 in the East Plenary Building when the ‘normal’ capacity is in excess of 3000”.

“Again, the viability of ACC core business events (conventions and exhibitions) is just nowhere near where it needs to be for venue hirers or AVM at this time,” he said.

The same challenges were evident for the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.

“Current restrictions allow for one person per four square metres, 75 per room and 300 person venue capacity [while] from 29 June, there will be no maximum venue head count, but the one person per four square metres will continue to apply,” he said.

“What does this enable the AEC to do? Current restrictions provide a maximum capacity for an Arena-end stage concert of 670 when under ‘normal’ circumstances we’d have a capacity of approximately 8000…

“No promoter is going to bring an Arena act to Adelaide under the restrictions – it’s just not remotely commercially viable, let alone the indifferent concertgoer experience.”

Speaking to InDaily, Treasurer Rob Lucas said the government would not close the venues despite them “clearly not making any money at all at the moment”.

“Ultimately if you’ve still got no revenue going in you’re still running up deficits [so] there will be an ongoing requirement to continue to fund them – otherwise they’d totally close down,” he said.

“Clearly the state’s not going to close down its Entertainment Centre and Convention Centre.”