SA Tourism Commission confirms Adelaide 500 axing

The 2020 Adelaide 500

The South Australian Tourism Commission has confirmed that the Superloop Adelaide 500 is no more.

While the 2021 event would have been the last on the current contract, that will not proceed, nor will the contract be renewed.

COVID-19 has been cited as a key factor in the decision, including “the inability to recoup costs in a pandemic”.

However, the move was also attributed to a declining fanbase, after a year in which the Adelaide 500 recorded an aggregate crowd of 206,000, the lowest since it became a four-day event in 2003.

That led to suggestions of a reversion to three days, before SATC, the government body which promoted the event, relinquished season-opener status for 2021 due to uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

Despite signs a new contract for 2022 and potentially beyond was coming, it has now given up on the Adelaide 500 altogether.

SATC chief executive, Rodney Harrex, said “South Australia is one of the premiere event locations in the nation and globe, and we will continue to invest in a range of sporting, cultural and arts events to stimulate the visitor economy.

“Due to the high level of uncertainty around the ability of the event to proceed in 2021, the likely impact on the event for both the consumer and commercial market, and the long-term decline in the core motorsport fan, a decision has been made that it will not be possible to hold the race next year, and to not seek a contract for future years.

“We have been in discussions with Supercars for the majority of this year, working through possible scenarios. At the end of the day, with the current set of circumstances we are not in a position to deliver a sustainable, successful future for the event for next year and beyond.

“This was not an easy decision to make. The Superloop Adelaide 500 has been part of our event landscape since 1999.

“We have a terrific world-class motor racing facility at The Bend. We are very fortunate to have had significant private investment in that circuit, and we already know the motoring faithful are keen to support ongoing races there.”

South Australian Tourism Commission chair Andrew Bullock added, “We want to thank the thousands of loyal fans, staff, officials, volunteers and suppliers who have worked on this event over the journey. We also want to thank all the commercial partners and businesses who have supported the event, including naming rights partner Superloop.

“We are committed to delivering world-class events and driving the visitor economy back to its record pre-COVID value of $8.1 billion.”

According to the SATC’s announcement, funds which would have gone to the Adelaide 500 “will be repurposed to secure and support a mix of ongoing and one-off events, continuing to drive visitation to – and economic benefit for – South Australia.”

Having joined the Supercars Championship calendar in 1999, the Adelaide 500 soon established itself as the standard season-opener, a position it has enjoyed for all but two years since 2002.

It is also the only event to have been inducted into Supercars’ Hall of Fame, in 2005.

The Adelaide Parklands Circuit which the touring car event utilised was a shortened version of that which hosted the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix from 1985 to 1995.

Next year’s Supercars Championship will commence in New South Wales at an otherwise unconfirmed circuit, although highly likely to be Mount Panorama.

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