Thursday, 26 May 2011

There is an oval

in the centre of Adelaide. It is just across the River Torrens from the CBD - which makes it almost within the CBD.
It is almost adjacent to our main railway station and Adelaide's only tram line - which runs next to the railway station. Multiple buses pass by the gates of the oval and many other buses are within easy walking distance - and I mean easy.
I am judging all this on my capacity to access some of these things. Aside from the issue of crossing wide city roads even I could walk that distance given a little time and effort. Most people would find it no effort at all - except that apparently they do.
The Adelaide Oval is the home of the South Australian Cricket Association - SACA. Cricket, like Australian Rules Football, is almost sacred in South Australia. It is so important (to a minority of people) that the government is spending at least $535m on upgrading the facilities at the oval. This has been the subject of much controversy.
My own view has always been that, if you like this sort of thing, watching sport is entertainment and should be paid for by those attending. It is not something the taxpayer should subsidise. People who play sport "professionally" get paid well (even if only for a short playing career) and so do the many people who manage them, train them, run the tribunals and clubs etc. Taxpayer money should not contribute to this. It is a business. Apparently however I am wrong and the taxpayers of South Australia are going to foot the bill.
Now that the money for the oval redevelopment has been granted however there is a new controversy - that of carparking.
The Adelaide CBD is also surrounded by parklands. They were given to the people of South Australia in perpetuity when the state was founded and Colonel Light laid out what is now the CBD. The parklands are used for a variety of purposes. The southern parklands are, reluctantly, used to park cars for the week of the annual Royal Show. The northern parklands are different. There are lawns and memorial gardens. They are adjacent to several hospitals, the Anglican cathedral and several other places of worship. For many they are, in fine weather, a place to eat lunch, take a quiet stroll or sit in quiet contemplation. There is remarkably little vandalism.
The oval redevelopment has now raised the question of "where is everyone going to park?" Ah yes of course, on the parklands. We can put in a car park. The government can grant an 80 year lease to SACA and the football code which will now run the Oval. Several thousand cars can be parked on Friday evenings (at a cost) for a match that lasts a few hours. The rest of the time that area will be nothing more than a car park.
This move is being made out of a fear that people will not attend matches if they cannot come by car. It is almost certainly the reason that the other football venue in South Australia, Football Park, has failed. There were transport and parking problems there. The car park was not big enough. The venue was seen as "too difficult" to reach - despite some dedicated bus services.
Adelaide is a small city. Melbourne, one of the biggest cities on earth in terms of distances that need to be covered, manages to attract much larger crowds but it seems the people of South Australia cannot manage without their cars.
My father and I manage without a car. He stopped driving some years ago. I cannot drive a car. It is not always convenient but we manage. Yes of course we sometimes accept the offer of a ride but we make sure we offer something in exchange - garden produce, some other service the driver needs, petrol money for a longer distance. Other than that we travel by gopher/scooter or taxi (my father) or tricycle and train (me). We manage and we are both far less mobile than most people.
But it seems that sports fans are not able to manage and that the rest of us may lose our beloved parklands because of it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Walk? They need those "travelator" things they have at airports - cannot possibly walk anywhere. Chris