What does the ARDC do for Members?
Members who attend the ARDC Annual General meeting each year receive financial and other reports about the preceding year’s activities and can participate in a Q & A session. But not many members attend the AGM, so not many hear about what ARDC has been doing for members.
Member benefits are listed in detail on our website at https://www.sydneymotorsportpark.com.au/aboutardc/ , but that isn’t quite what I mean.
Our Constitution lists five formal Objects of the Club, which might loosely be summarised as ‘promoting motor sport’, but there is no reference in the Objects to Members (there is a whole section on Membership, but it’s not mentioned in the Objects).
So, I thought this month I would write a little about what the ARDC has been doing for Members over the last several years and what we hope to do in the future.
As you probably know ARDC does not own Sydney Motorsport Park, which is an asset of the state of NSW. Originally known as Eastern Creek International Raceway, the venue is almost 30 years old and has been operated by ARDC since 1996. ARDC has a lease to operate the venue until 2041 and our landlord is the Western Sydney Parklands Trust, to which we pay rent.
In the early part of this century our Club re-built its financial position to provide a platform for future growth. In recent years ARDC has grown its annual cash profit steadily and will this year earn close to $1.5M (before Depreciation and Interest costs). Over the last ten years or so we have deliberately diversified and stabilised our various revenue sources, reducing dependence on any one activity as well as ‘de-risking’ our exposure to large costs. This has given ARDC the ability to do more for Members and to be a leader in promoting motor sport in Australia. Put differently, we have been reinvesting our profits into the SMSP facility; this is what ARDC has been doing for members.
Given the recent (and ongoing) growth in ARDC membership there will be many members who are not familiar with the degree of improvement in the quality of the SMSP venue since 2011. I don’t think it is unfair to say that the facility had become tired and in need of some significant care and attention. Since 2011, Total Capital Expenditure of $22,300,000 has been invested in SMSP. Here’s how that expenditure has been allocated:
Track Extension (including South Paddock) – $10,000,000
Track Works (to maintain FIA Grade 2) – $2,500,000
Main Pit Building upgrade (including lift) – $2,000,000
Main Entrance Road – $1,800,000
Garage Café, Hospitality Suites & other catering infrastructure – $1,500,000
Amenity Blocks A & B – $500,000
Green Works (LED lighting, solar panels, tree planting) – $300,000
Rebranding/Wayfinding/Signage – $1,000,000
ARDC has contributed $13,500,000 of the total investment over the last 7 years. The funds have been sourced from accumulated reserves (savings), plus reinvestment of surpluses into the facility for the benefit of the sport and our Members. ARDC has not funded this investment by incurring debts. The NSW State Government contributed $7,000,000 to the Track Extension and Western Sydney Parklands Trust has made ongoing contributions, including to the Accessible Lift and the Main Entrance Road, so far totalling $1,800,000.
Obviously, a facility like SMSP has an ongoing appetite for care and maintenance investment, but we believe it is important to continue to enhance the venue for the benefit of our stakeholders, primarily our Members.
Our next major project target is the installation of permanent lighting for the track. The primary benefit from lights will be extended operating hours, increasing our capacity and enabling greater utilisation of the venue for the benefit of members and other motorsport enthusiasts (who we hope will become members). We maintain an ongoing focus on delivering value for our members; what ARDC is doing for Members is investing in motorsport.
I should also briefly acknowledge the announcement in October that Supercars will not compete at SMSP in 2019. While this is disappointing, we understand the challenges of the Supercars calendar and recognise their contractual commitments to other venues. ARDC has a strong relationship with Supercars and we look forward to welcoming the Championship back to SMSP early in 2020. Our night race this year was a major success for all involved and we are optimistic about establishing a long-term commitment from 2020.