The Adelaide Oval is in the heart of the city and it holds a special place in the heart of all South Australians. Today, it’s the state’s pre-eminent sporting and entertainment destination – hosting world-class events; from the Ashes, to the Australian Football League (AFL) to Adele.
The initial redevelopment concept was met with a degree of public scepticism. There was community concern about the project’s cost and the effect the changes would have on the original Oval and its iconic features – such as the heritage scoreboard, the stands and the memories that many South Australians hold dear.
Protecting this heritage and beauty was paramount to the redevelopment project. Designing a unique timber viewing platform around the Moreton Bay fig trees on the northern mound, preserving the heritage scoreboard, carefully designing the architecture so that the Oval remains integrated into the surrounding parklands and maintaining unobstructed views of the Cathedral were all critical elements to the redevelopment’s success.
This need to preserve the Oval’s heritage had to work hand in glove with the need to offer 21st century facilities. Today’s public expect high quality coverage, lighting, replay screens, viewing and catering. They expect a first-class entertainment experience. Getting this mix of the best of old and new right was crucial to the Oval’s success.
Initially, we discussed building a new stadium out of the city. This would have been a grave mistake. One of the key reasons for the success of the Oval is its proximity to the centre of Adelaide. The city is a central hub for public transport and people can take a five-minute walk to the stadium from the city across the River Torrens Footbridge. On AFL game day the roar of the crowd, the lights, the sounds and the raw energy of the match spill out and echo across Adelaide.
Events at the Oval have dramatically increased the life and economic activity of the city. Restaurants, cafés and bars are crammed with people enjoying pre and post-event meals and drinks. This activity has been quantified at approximately A$170M a year, but the social benefits are incalculable.
It’s difficult now to find somebody who would say that they were against the Oval’s redevelopment. At the time though, it was highly controversial and there was a lot at stake. We put such importance on getting everything right the first time. We needed the doors to open and everything to work.
I never thought we couldn’t do it. We asked people to do amazing things. And amazing people did amazing things. In the end, the whole redevelopment was completed on time, under budget, without scandal or major error.
The Adelaide Oval is now a unifying destination that all South Australians have embraced with pride. Whether it is a game of cricket, a football match, a concert, a meal, a tour of the ground or the award-winning RoofClimbs, the Adelaide Oval is a beacon of success.