Sports Industry AU

What happens off the field in Australian Sport

Adelaide Oval



Adelaide Oval has been home to South Australian Cricket since 1871, and SANFL matches have been played there since 1877.

Early attempts to get AFL Football

Adelaide Oval repeatedly tried to attract AFL football to the stadium throughout the 90’s, however the SANFL contract with the AFL forced all games to be played at Football Park.

In June 2005, the SACA announced it would challenge the exclusivity of the AFL agreement in the Federal Court believing it was a breach of the Trade Practice Act. In this it had the support of the SA Government. The SACA said seven Victorian clubs had expressed an interest in playing at Adelaide Oval.

In July 2005, the AFL announced that the exclusivity deal would be scrapped. However despite this, the AFL also said it did not intend to fixture more games in Adelaide.

The AFL CEO said

“It has been the AFL’s consistent view that West ern Australia and South Australia are both mature football markets and one premiership match per week in those states is the right mix for our national competition.
It also is AFL policy to show preference to transfer matches to developing markets. We will continue to look at playing games in the developing markets in NSW, Queensland, Canberra, Darwin and Tasmania, not the established market in Adelaide.”

AFL football was evenutally played at the ground as a one off event in 2011, before moving to the ground full time in 2014.

It was later revealed that the AFL had intended to move Port Adelaide to Adelaide Oval regardless of the SANFL deal.

“Andrew Demetriou took the primary role in getting the SANFL to see sense,” recalled Kevin Foley.

“I remember meeting with Mike Fitzpatrick and Andrew a couple of times in Melbourne who revealed to me if the SANFL didn’t come on board they would move Port Adelaide to a semi-developed Adelaide Oval regardless.

Upgrades, the SANFL and the SACA deal

The SACA and the AFL began talking about moving AFL football to the Oval as early as 2007.

On December 3rd, 2009, the SA Government announced that an agreement had been reached between the SACA, SANFL, and the AFL, which would enable the hosting of AFL matches at Adelaide Oval, as well as an extension of its capacity to 50,000.

The deal, which at the time was worth an estimated $450 million would be funded by the cancellation of the $200 million West lakes tram line, and $100 million in funds that had been earmarked for an upgrade of Football Park. The deal required 100 million in Federal funding..

On December 5th, the Advertiser reported on the SANFL list of demands required to be met before any move to Adelaide Oval could be countenanced. They included

  • Compensation for the SANFL’s $1 million naming rights deal for its West Lakes stadium.
  • A guaranteed stadium return of at least $32 million a year, indexed to inflation, similar to its net returns from AAMI Stadium.
  • All funding confirmed for the redevelopment before any agreement is signed.
  • Compensation for any losses through maintaining AAMI Stadium.
  • State Government should use legislation if required to overcome all heritage issues relating to the move.
  • The SANFL has total control of Adelaide Oval from March 1 to October 14 each year.
  • State Government gives major project status to any redevelopment of AAMI Stadium and removes any encumbrances to its development.
  • That a long-term lease is signed for use of Adelaide Oval at “peppercorn” rent.
  • No upfront investment from SANFL into costs of redevelopment and no SANFL responsibility for any blowout in costs.
  • The SANFL will have rights to a clean stadium and the SANFL will determine signage issues.
  • Cricket pitches must be removed during football season.
  • SANFL and SACA to keep all income from car parking, catering and sponsorship in the Adelaide Oval precinct.

In early 2010, it was revealed that the Government would boost its funding from 450 million to 535 million.

The SANFLs parking demands would raise hackles with the Adelaide City Council, and it was reported in July 2010 that the Council simply could not afford to hand over all the funds from car parking to the Ovals operators.

The SMA wanted 3,800 car parks around the oval. There would be 2,100 on the parklands, which were under council control.


On July 26, 2010, it was revealed that the AFL and SACA had been discussing a deal for almost 2 years before the SANFL had become involved.

On August 10, 2010, the SANFL announced that it was satisfied that the Crows and Power would be better off by up to 8 million a year – simply by moving to the Oval.

The Advertiser reported that during a six hour meeting the clubs and SANFL directors were told that there would be a

  • $8.1 million uplift in revenue.
  • $6.2 million return after $1.9m is allocated for the upkeep of AAMI Stadium as a back-up AFL and SANFL venue.
  • 70% increase in Port Adelaide season-ticket sales (from 13,600 to 23,000).
  • 27% in Power crowds (from average of 24,300 to 31,000).
  • 12% in Adelaide season-ticket sales (24,700 to 27,600).
  • 8% in Crows crowds (39,000 to 42,000).

The Advertiser also reported that outstanding issues remained, namely

  • A legal partnership – dubbed “the promoters’ agreement” – setting the terms of the SANFL-SACA joint venture at Adelaide Oval.
  • A carpark centre, with 1200 spots, on the western side of Adelaide Oval. This $45 m project could still become a joint venture with the city council or a private investor.
  • Control of the parklands in the Adelaide Oval precinct with the Stadium Management Authority wanting statutory administration of the area transferred from the Adelaide City Council to the State Government. “Adelaide Oval is cited on parklands – and we respect that,” said Whicker.
  • Federal Government funding, with Whicker vowing to hit Canberra after the August 21 election.

The council decided at a meeting in February, 2011 that it would not willingly relinquish control of the parklands. However they might be willing to lease it to the SMA at a commercial rate.

By March 27th, 2011, most of these issues were reported as resolved by the Sunday Mail. An Agreement between football and cricket had finally been reached. It just needed the seal of approval from the SACA members.

On May 1st, 2011, 80% of the SACA members voted to proceed with the Adelaide Oval redevelopment.

On May 4th, 2011 it was reported that the AFL were likely to put about 5 million into the development.

On the 29th September, 2011, The Adelaide Oval Redevelopment and Management Act came into law. It defines the area and boundaries of the facility as well as lease arrangements.

On December 29th, 2011 the Federal Government announced $30 million in federal funding, which would likely be used for car parking facilities underground.

The Advertiser printed the following table


The Stadium Management Authority

The SMA is the body which manages the Oval. Its board consisted of 4 SANFL representatives and 4 SACA representatives. In March 2013, the SA Government responded to public criticism by seeking legal advice as to whether the make up of the SMA could be changed. However, the respective Act seemed to indicate this would not be possible.

Under the Act. The SMA is required to support a sinking fund from its revenues – – to be used solely for the mainteance and upkeep of the facility.

Stadium Membership Problems

An initial “Adelaide Oval Ultimate Membership” ticket was available from the SMA at $795. Originally proposed for 600 seats, the SMA later took up to 10,000 to sell to met its costs. This offer was later scrapped after 6,500 of them were purchased, in favour of separate cricket and football memberships. However even the way these football memberships was to be sold was disputed with the AFL clubs, and the SANFL at odds with

  • Concerns from the two AFL clubs, Adelaide and Port Adelaide, on how the premium football tickets, which are estimated to be priced at $515, would threaten their membership sales.
  • The SANFL protecting its income stream by demanding the league not lose money by moving from AAMI Stadium to the city.
  • The AFL clubs arguing that they, not the SANFL, should sell the tickets at Adelaide Oval.
  • Questions being raised over both the pricing of the $515 premium ticket and whether all 12,200 tickets should be handled by the SANFL.

Adelaide and Port Adelaide deals

in June 2014, a review of the original deals was launched after both AFL clubs said they deserved a larger share of the revenue after a massive increase in attendances.

It was revealed at the start of the review that Port was charged $18,000 for match-day traffic management, whereas the MCG charges clubs $1000 for the same service.

In November 2014, the SANFL offered a gradual increase over 5 years, but this was rejected by the AFL clubs.

In March 2015, it was reported that the new agreement now turned over 70 cents in the dollar from Adelaide oval to the AFL clubs.Tthe new deal centres on: incentives the Power and Crows will receive if they draw more than 30,000 to the Oval; and the two clubs having access to more stadium assets to sell for corporate revenue and more reserved seats to sell at premium rates.

All catering, parking and corporate sales traditionally have been taken — even in the Football Park era — by the venue management, in the Oval’s case the SMA on behalf of the SANFL.

Rights to a share of the catering and corporate revenue from AFL finals were written into the Oval stadium deal in February 2015, after the review of the Oval’s ultra-successful launch season in 2014.

The clubs are also understood to have

  • 100% of membership fees
  • 100% of corporate boxes revenue sold that the clubs have been allocated
  • Catering Profits from those boxes – who knows what the split is.
  • 100% of the LED advertising revenue and the advertising revenue from the big screens
  • Some general signage revenues
  • 100% of the profits made on functions in designated club areas

Game Day Village

In 2015 the SMA launched a challenge against Port Adelaides Game Day Village – held outside the defined stadium precinct. When it was unsuccessful, the SMA launched its own food and beverage sales outside the Oval.

Food and beverage pricing

In March 2016 it was reported that fans at Adelaide Oval would face increases in pricing – even though Adelaide Oval is already considered the most expensive stadium for food at AFL games.

In 2017, the ABC reported that food and drink prices at Adelaide Oval remain at a “ridiculous” level, punters have said, despite requests by South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill last year to keep prices down. At the Guns N’ Roses concert on Saturday night, concert-goers were forced to spend $9.20 for a common beer such as Hahn Super Dry and $8.90 for a locally brewed West End Draught, while spirits cost $13.90 and soft drinks $5.60.

Attendance averages

Home & Away Finals
Year   Attendance   GM   Ave.   Attendance   GM   Ave.  
2016 953922 22 43360 49007 1 49007
2015 937090 21 44623
2014 1016514 22 46205 49886 1 49886
2011 29340 1 29340
Totals 2936866 66 44498 98893 2 49447

Top AFL Attendances (to the end of 2016)

53518 Port Adelaide v Adelaide Adelaide Oval 2015
53141 Adelaide v Geelong Adelaide Oval 2016
52505 Port Adelaide v Carlton Adelaide Oval 2014
52460 Adelaide v West Coast Adelaide Oval 2015
52233 Port Adelaide v Hawthorn Adelaide Oval 2014
51585 Adelaide v Port Adelaide Adelaide Oval 2016
51330 Adelaide v Sydney Adelaide Oval 2016
50785 Adelaide v West Coast Adelaide Oval 2016
50552 Adelaide v Port Adelaide Adelaide Oval 2014
50459 Adelaide v Richmond Adelaide Oval 2014