Aug 24, 2011

Australian Open Golf ­ November at the Lakes Golf Club, Eastlakes

I wanted to inform residents of circumstances surrounding the Men’s Australian Open Golf Championship 2011, which is due to be held at the Lakes Golf Club between 10 and 13 November 2011. As well, there are two extra days scheduled, one for practice on Tuesday November 8 and then the traditional pro-am, scheduled for Wednesday, November 9.
Several weeks ago, Council have been involved in All Agencies Meetings, hosted by the NSW Government events personnel from the Department of Premier and Cabinet to discuss arrangements for this event.
The reason for the increased involvement of the NSW Government is due solely to the appearance of perhaps the best known golfer in the world – Tiger Woods – and crowd numbers are expected to double, or perhaps treble.
A spokesperson for the event organiser, Tony Roosenburg advised the meeting that the event is on a month earlier than last year and the confirmation of Tiger Woods’ participation has changed the event.  As a consequence, traffic arrangements, on-course grandstands and food facilities will be re-organised completely than earlier discussions with Council had suggested.
Given the projected increased crowd numbers, Mr Roosenburg stated that the capacity for public attendance would be capped at 15,000 people per day from Thursday to Sunday with a further 3,000 on the practice day, the preceding Tuesday, and 5,000 people for the Pro-Am on the Wednesday.  Friday and Sunday – November 11 and 13 – would be expected to be the busiest days. However, spectator numbers are, as to be expected, dependent on the weather and which golfer make the cut for the final two days of the tournament.
Last year’s event averaged 6,000 to 8,000 spectators for the four days.  It was a big even and this year it will be even bigger.
Event organisers have indicated, both at the meeting and before hand in discussions with Council officers, that they require 5,000 car spaces to use for park and ride service to the event.
One pleasing factor to emerge at the meeting was that a real emphasis will be given to getting spectators to and from the event by public transport.  Indeed, like events at Sydney Olympic Park, the organisers will aim to provide access to public transport as part of the admission price.  Railcorp with work with State Transit to provide a shuttle service from Mascot station to the Lakes Golf Course and back.  This way, we may reduce the amount of traffic in our local streets.
But, there will be some disruption to local residents.  There is no way around that, given the event and the drawcard players.
Our job will be to minimise the disruption. We will also be working with our local police command and the Botany Police LAC, Karen McCarthy, advised the Premiers’ Department meeting of the extra risks, security and parking issues as compared to last year.  
When this year’s Australian Open was first discussed with Council, Astrolabe Park was mentioned as a venue for spectator parking.  This was the location of parking for last year’s event. Unfortunately, so far Sydney Water, which controls Astrolabe Park, has refused permission to the event organizers.  If Sydney Water does, however, give permission for the use of Astrolabe Park, this Council would only permit up to 1,400 vehicles to use the area, the same as we allowed for the 2010 event. This clearly would be insufficient given the projected numbers we now have for the event.
Through the State Government, the event organiser is examining further sites at Randwick Racecourse, which can accommodate 2,500 cars, and Moore Park.  Currently, no events are programmed at Moore Park during the Championship and it was confirmed that Moore Park could accommodate 3,000 cars. The event organisers are also examining additional public entrances to the course from Sparks Avenue, Wentworth Avenue and Florence Avenue, which were used last year.  
Council stressed at the meeting – and we will continue to stress – the importance of notifying all residents in the vicinity of the venue entrances and traffic and parking arrangements.
While the event is not considered by the State Government as a “Major Event” it has been given “Hallmark” status, which means it will require DA approval from Council.
The Team Leader of Development, who attended the Premiers’ Department meeting with our Director of Assets & Environment, outlined to the organisers the DA process and the heritage listing issues, plans showing the location of food facilities and grandstand locations, statement of environmental effect, which would need to address the capacity of the event, hours of the event and the parking arrangements.
There will need to be a Traffic Management Plan, which will have to be approved by both Council and the Event Management Group. This plan will need to include all STA and Railcorp transport options, comment on all shuttle bus arrangements and routes and any parking arrangements that will impact on residents of our City.  Council officers advised the meeting that that the DA and TMP would be required before the end of August to allow adequate time for approval prior to the commencement of the event. This time estimate was reinforced by the Premier’s Department, although the event organisers expressed concern about deadlines.
Both Council and the Premier’s Department understand the rules and regulations must be met and the organisers were left in no doubt as to what was required and the time frames to meet all approvals.
We, and the State Government, are not being difficult – we are making sure the event is held in line with all the legal requirements. I will continue to keep residents updated on progress.

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