Finding a stand-alone facility for each sporting club in a local government area is a challenge. That’s why the City of Playford decided to develop a shared facility and they involved different sporting clubs right from the beginning.

As City of Playford Sport Development Officer Tyson Roling explains, by working with different clubs and setting up a good governance model, a successful shared facility can be developed.

How did this idea come about?

The City of Playford aims to build sport and recreational facilities that drive participation. In developing Eyre Sports Park, they identified that there was a need to cater for cricket, soccer and rugby league and as a result, the idea of a developing a shared premium community sporting facility to cater for the Eyre Royals Cricket Club, Northern Wolves Soccer Club and Central Districts Rugby League Clubs came about.

Opened in 2018, the Park was developed in consultation with these clubs who were involved throughout the building design process.

What challenges or issues is it designed to address?

The shared facility model provides for a more efficient use of resources rather than replicating infrastructure for multiple sporting clubs. The City of Playford believes that by introducing an overarching management association to oversee the facility, it allows clubs to collaborate, share resources and improve operation efficiency such as rent, utilities and building maintenance responsibilities.

The bar is licensed to the Eyre Sports Park Association and the revenue generated from the bar and kitchen facilities goes directly to the Association and is then evenly distributed amongst the clubs at certain periods throughout the year. In the example of Eyre Sports Park, Council invested in the online administration program and point of sales system in order to support this shared model.

Revenue is not only generated from the kitchen and bar, but from hiring of the function area, encouraging clubs to advertise the facilities to external groups to further diversify their revenue streams. The City of Playford hopes the model will also allow better access funding opportunities with the clubs working together as a collective for applications.

What barriers did you come across in implementing this idea?

The shared model facility created some early challenges for some of the clubs which relocated to this facility after moving from a facility where they had full autonomy. For the Eyre Royals Cricket Club, the move had a massive impact on their club which underwent a full re-brand. The Royals were previously known as the Rose & Crown Cricket Club, playing out of Ridley Reserve at Elizabeth, a stone’s throw away from the Rose & Crown Hotel where the club originated from.

What has been the reaction (from club members and broader)?

After the early trepidation of relocating from their former ‘home’, the clubs were blown away by the new facilities and set about working together as the success of the facility is dictated by the clubs’ willingness to work together and engage the local community.

Do you think this initiative could be easily picked up by other clubs and Councils?

The most important aspect is to get the right clubs into the facilities. You need to be conscious of the history and standing clubs have in their local community as uprooting the wrong club can have a devastating impact on their future.

The building at Eyre Sports Park is governed by the Eyre Sports Park Association comprising of three independent executive members (President, Secretary, Treasurer), however if this cannot be achieved, the executive committee will be comprised of one from each of the sporting clubs on a rotation basis. The remainder of the management committee is completed with two delegates from each club forming the association. The executive committee does not have voting rights, each club is given one vote on items that require a committee decision.

This model has aided in ensuring there is equity, with no one club dictating terms. While for some the principle of a shared facility can be perceived as restrictive for clubs, this has been unfounded, and it in fact has led to the clubs, their members and the local community developing greater cohesion while benefitting from quality infrastructure that would not have been attainable otherwise.

City of Playford has an active role in the management of the facility, acting in an ex-officio capacity on the management committee. This is to ensure the three clubs are working collaboratively and making decisions that will positively impact all stakeholders. The City of Playford manage sportsground bookings across the city, this is particularly beneficial for Eyre Sports Park as this enables fair opportunity for all clubs to use the facilities. It also optimises the opportunities for sportsgrounds to be used by others in the community including schools and activities that do not require building tenancy.

Any advice for other clubs/councils seeking to implement this?

Getting the right people involved on the management committee! The non-cooperation of one tenant can bring down the whole structure, therefore having people on the committee who can put aside club agendas to work as a collective for the betterment of the local community, as engagement of the local community will ultimately help the clubs.

Is there anything you would do differently?

While the clubs were consulted during the building design phase, the practicality of the final build presented some challenges. A key learning from this facility was the lack of wall space inside the function area. While the glass panels generate spectacular views from the club rooms of the ovals during the cold, wet winters and baking hot summer’s days, the downfall in the lack of wall space allowing clubs to showcase their history and make the facility feel more ‘homely’ is lacking.

Has this supported an increase in members/volunteers/revenue?

The newly branded Eyre Royals Cricket Club has grown from strength to strength since the move, growing from two to 12 teams with half of that number made up of junior and women’s teams.

The move for the Northern Wolves Soccer Club has also seen their membership base explode, rising from five teams at their previous Elizabeth facility to 14 teams. Junior participation has been the biggest driver in the increase, with the club expanding from three junior teams to 10 in the last three years, capitalising on the booming new suburbs surrounding the Park.