The Central Coast Mariners hope to be running their own stadium by the beginning of next season, after local council chiefs received a key report that recommends they hand Central Coast Stadium over to a private operator.
On Wednesday Mariners CEO Shaun Mielekamp will submit the club’s formal proposal to become the first A-League team running its own ground, in a move he said would change the economics of the club — and secure its future in Gosford.
Central Coast councillors were briefed on Monday on the contents of a report into the future of the stadium by consultants KPMG, which it’s believed recommends its management be outsourced to a private operator.
Though the council is likely to seek “expressions of interest” for the tender, the Mariners are confident their proposal – which includes establishing a W-League team, creating retail outlets around the stadium’s perimeter and using it as a concert venue – will present a compelling case.
Negotiations are likely to last for months, but Mielekamp is hoping to have assumed the management rights in time for the next A-League and W-League seasons, opening up a wide range of income sources.
Though Mariners owner Mike Charlesworth has previously sought to assume the rights to run the stadium, the KPMG report is believed to recommend a change of policy by council that opens the way for private operators.
Under the plan, the Mariners would pay council an annual fee, and after investing in its infrastructure, would be able to leverage the stadium to raise extra revenue.
The proposal aims to open the precinct up to public use, removing the black gates round the ground and establishing a pop-up restaurant precinct along one side modelled on Brisbane’s successful Eat Street area of eateries in shipping containers.
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