Australian Turf Club Chair John Cornish has admitted that Royal Randwick "should never have opened in April for the autumn carnival," according to Christian Nicolussi of the HERALD SUN.
As the A$150M ($138M) Randwick renovations are officially completed this week -- three weeks ahead of schedule, but A$10M over budget -- Cornish said that the ATC "was left with no other option but to throw open its doors earlier this year, despite the grandstand being only half finished."
Cornish added that the ATC "desperately needed an income stream, and wanted to make sure traditional races like the Derby and Doncaster remained at Sydney racing's headquarters." Cornish said, "We shouldn't have opened for the autumn carnival. But we needed the money, and we wanted to hold the traditional races at their traditional home. Had Randwick been a shopping center, and I've built plenty of them, you wouldn't have opened it half finished." While the ATC "was forced to turn people away in the autumn, there will be no such problem this spring when capacity jumps from 23,000 people to 52,000." Eighteen corporate boxes have already been snapped up for just under A$200,000 a year. Racing New South Wales provided A$152.7M for the new grandstand. Of that money, Cornish said that A$131M "was spent on designing and building the grandstand," which then left A$20M for fit-outs.
That "figure ended up doubling" to A$40M but after some help from Tabcorp, which fitted out its own TV screens and betting terminals, and the likes of Moet & Chandon and Toohey's & Schweppes, the ATC were left to cover a A$10M shortfall (HERALD SUN, 7/17