THE St Kilda Football Club’s welcome back to Moorabbin Reserve, and impending exit from Seaford, is official after Kingston Council voted to approve a 50-year lease at Linton St for the AFL club.
Kingston councillors voted at a public council meeting last Monday evening (22 August) to give the Saints a 25-year lease with an option for a further 25 years despite some community concern about a $420,000 rates discount over the first decade of the lease.
An 84 per cent reduction on building rent means the football club will pay $80,000 rather than $500,000 in building rent over the first ten years.
Kingston ratepayers objecting to the lease believed St Kilda FC should not receive a discount since council is contributing $5 million worth of ratepayers’ money to the $28.4 million redevelopment of Linton St.
The AFL club will pay a total annual rent of $81,905 for land, buildings, liquor and gaming for the first ten years rising to $123,905 per year in year 11 and indexed to inflation from then on.
Objectors were also unhappy at the club continuing to have 83 pokies machines at the venue.
At last week’s council meeting councillors voiced some concerns about St Kilda’s previous behaviour when it quit Moorabbin six years ago and moved club administration work and training sessions to Seaford.
Frankston Council spent $4 million of its ratepayers’ money enticing the AFL club to Seaford after the Saints fell out with Kingston Council over a planned redevelopment at Linton St.
At last week’s Kingston Council meeting Cr Ron Brownlees insisted the terms of the new lease are not as beneficial to the club as the terms offered in 2010 despite concerns about the hefty building rent discount.
“They [St Kilda FC] were getting a much better deal before than what they getting now – trust me,” he said.
“This is a quite a reasonable outcome, I think, for all parties.
Cr Steve Staikos noted St Kilda had not been “a perfect tenant” in Kingston in the past but he argued the club’s management is now different and is committed to making a contribution back to the community.
“It’s a different club to what it was and I believe they’re very sincere in their ambition to become a top-tier AFL club and engage with the community.”
The club will have to conduct annual maintenance to the Linton St oval and building.
Cr John Ronke expressed concern that council will directly profit from electronic gaming machines and alcohol sales at Linton St since gaming rent of $48,555 annually and an estimated $20,000 each year based on 2 per cent of expected liquor sales, are listed as separate items in the lease.
The previous lease before 2010 applied a flat rate “for less” than the new lease and did not itemise gaming and liquor sales fees payable to council, according to council CEO John Nevins.
“I’m very much in favour of St Kilda coming back to Moorabbin, they are a different club now … but I am uncomfortable with itemising as part of a lease arrangement, linking the arrangements to gaming rent and liquor rent,” Cr Ronke said.
“Personally, I don’t like the connotation that council now is making money from gaming through this association with the lease and having a revenue turnover from liquor sales.”
All Kingston councillors voted to approve the lease to St Kilda FC with the exceptions of Crs David Eden and Rosemary West who abstained from voting on the matter.
Frankston Council CEO Dennis Hovenden says negotiations over the Saints’ exit from Linen House in Seaford are ongoing.
“A detailed report will be provided to Council on options for the future use of the facility at the appropriate time,” Mr Hovenden said in a statement.
“Council looks forward to seeing its investment in this facility being made available for other uses.”
UPDATE: This article was amended on 9 September 2016 to confirm St Kilda Football Club will pay total annual rent of $81,905 for the first ten years and $123,905 indexed annually thereafter.