Tour Down Under - Adelaide.

Tour Down Under - Adelaide.

Over 100,000 will gather in Adelaide’s CBD today to watch Lance Armstrong, Cadel Evans and their pro-cycling buddies – impressive for a city with just over one million inhabitants. Adelaide, so often derided by its eastern seaboard brethren as a backwater has, in fact, contributed much to the wider Aussie sporting landscape, be it cycling, motorsport and even rugby.

The Tour Down Under has grown exponentially over the past decade, fuelled in the last two years by the presence of Lance Armstrong, becoming the first event outside of Europe to be included on the UCI’s Pro Tour.

It was state government funding and support that helped the event develop beyond its formative stages, and Premier Mike Rann hasn’t hidden the fact that the government has dipped into its own pockets to attract the likes of Armstrong, knowing how crucial competitors of that calibre are to an event’s success.

Adelaide has an impressive history of not only attracting such international events to the state – particularly impressive when you consider its size – but also turning them into a success.

The Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix was Adelaide’s forerunner of its major sporting events – first held in 1985, becoming one of the most popular stops on the F1 tour.

South Australian government support was crucial in attracting the event; attempting to put Adelaide on the map and distinguishing it from Melbourne and Sydney to an international audience.

Without that state government investment and the success of the season-ending Adelaide race, it is unlikely Australia would be enjoying its current golden age in motorsport, which owes much to the knock-on effects of the race that helped to popularise all forms of motorsport in Australia.

When the race was lost to Melbourne, Adelaide rebounded with the Clipsal 500 for the V8 Supercar series – creating the template of a festive city event that is being replicated by races across the series, particularly in Sydney (Homebush).

Government investment was also crucial in bringing the Sevens Rugby tournament to the state, perhaps the strangest feather in Adelaide’s cap.

Although the South Australian Rugby Union board was established as far back as 1932, Adelaide is far from a rugby stronghold, with Aussie Rules the staple sporting diet for locals.

Adelaide’s League and Union footprint is almost non-existent (anyone remember the Adelaide Rams?), yet the state government, yet again, invested heavily to attract the event, which is popular with locals, fitting neatly into Adelaide’s congested opening few months of each year alongside the Tour Down Under, Clipsal 500 and various Arts and music festivals.

The idea of moving the Sevens tournament away from Adelaide to try and help expand the form of the game on the eastern seaboard was recently raised here on The Roar, and though the proposal won’t be well received in the city (Adelaidians have a fear of major events being stolen – see the Grand Prix), it is yet another example of how an Adelaide grown event could go on to substantially benefit the wider Australian landscape.

But few events are as well received as in Adelaide, which is deprived of so many world class acts, be it headline bands or major acts.

As a result the locals create a euphoric support for events in the state, and Adelaidians tend to idolise their sporting heroes like few others – to the point where a non-sporting friend told me he was concerned at how feverishly Adelaide was under the Armstrong spell and backing Premier Rann and his sporting investments.

Armstrong’s arrival into Adelaide unbelievably and inexcusably bumped the Haiti tragedy from the frontpage of the daily newspaper, The Advertiser, on Thursday.

When Armstrong sent out an invite to join him on a public ride through his Twitter page, approximately 5,000 accepted and joined him.

It’s a sports mad city, perhaps only truly rivalled by Melbourne, and on Friday night at Hindmarsh, with Armstrong stealing the headlines, this point was proven with the woeful and bottom of the table Adelaide United pulling yet another 10,000 plus crowd – an incredible phenomenon this season that I’ve explored previously.

Far from a backwater, Adelaide’s legacy and impact on Australian sport is immense.

When debating the sporting capital of Australia, Adelaide deserves a mention at minimum.

Adrian Musolino
Adrian Musolino

Adrian Musolino is editor of V8X Magazine, and has written as an expert on The Roar since 2008, cementing himself as a key writer who can see the big picture in sport. He freelances on other forms of motorsport, football, cycling and more.

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The Crowd Says (35)

  • January 17th 2010 @ 8:50am
    Marshall said | January 17th 2010 @ 8:50am | ! Report

    Good investments like that make a big difference. As you say I find it odd they went after Sevens Rugby. Shows a committed govt on big events.

  • January 17th 2010 @ 8:57am
    Marshall said | January 17th 2010 @ 8:57am | ! Report

    Just saw Mike Rann write this: So if you didn’t see Bradman bat, Pele score a goal, or Muhammed Ali fight, come and see Lance Armstrong ride in our own backyard.

    He likes playing it up!

    • Roar Guru

      January 17th 2010 @ 8:29pm
      Michael C said | January 17th 2010 @ 8:29pm | ! Report

      I’d’ve thought Lance Armstrong sits pretty okay in that company, along with Tiger Woods ‘drive’ and Roger Federer forehand.

    • January 18th 2010 @ 8:04am
      Mattay said | January 18th 2010 @ 8:04am | ! Report

      Surprised he didn’t add “and watch Mike Rann govern”. He sure rates himself ol’ Randy.

  • January 17th 2010 @ 9:32am
    James said | January 17th 2010 @ 9:32am | ! Report

    Getting the Grand Prix was the biggest thing and was one of the defining moments in the history of Australian sport, not just for motorsport but all sport as it should how well Australia, even an unknown town like Adelaide, could run international events.

  • January 17th 2010 @ 12:45pm
    Forgetmenot said | January 17th 2010 @ 12:45pm | ! Report

    Yes Adelaide does seem to be very good at attracting new and relatively unknown events and then building them up for other cities to steal.
    Before Armstrong came along i was thinking the the Tour Down Under could become one of the major events on the cycling calendar. While it is far from major at the moment, it is growing. Lance Armstrong coming here and participating is doing wonders for the sport.
    Sporting Capital of Australia? Hnads down Melbourne,it is the Worlds sporting capital. Im not from Victoria and never have been.

    • January 17th 2010 @ 8:39pm
      jimbo said | January 17th 2010 @ 8:39pm | ! Report

      To be a sporting capital you must embrace all types of sports and all types of sportsmen and women.

      Melbourne’s recent attempts to derail the FIFA WC bid and block any games to be played in Melbourne shows it is more interested in AFL than anything else.

      AFL Capital of the World, more likely.

      • January 17th 2010 @ 8:53pm
        bever fever said | January 17th 2010 @ 8:53pm | ! Report

        D ribble, Melbourne is the reigning AFL. NRL, Aleague, Netball and basketball permier, it also has the Formula 1, Australian tennis open and has just built a stadium for its Super rugby, soccer and league team.

        It also has one of the premier sporting groungs in the world (MCG) which has just recently hosted the boxing day test match and around 45 thousand people just turned up to a 20/20 state game.

        It is also most certainly the AFL capital of the world, that is where your problem is, sou r grapes is all you have.

        If soccer australia has been truthful with their bid all problems could have been avoided, why dont they just build their own grounds and not use other competing codes.

        Tell me Jimbo, as you believe that Melbourne is not the sporting capital of this country then what is.

        I have asked before but you got nada.

        • January 18th 2010 @ 8:06am
          Mattay said | January 18th 2010 @ 8:06am | ! Report

          If you gave me the option of living in any city in the world for 12 months and being able to attend every sporting event in that city for that period, I would pick New York, London and Paris before Melbourne.

          • January 18th 2010 @ 8:36pm
            bever fever said | January 18th 2010 @ 8:36pm | ! Report

            I never said it was the sporting capital of the world and i can see some good points regarding New york and London and maybe the French open in Paris, but call me nieve but what else does Paris have am i missing something….. a bike race. maybe !!

            Actually Melbourne stacks up pretty well against these other cities.

      • January 17th 2010 @ 10:56pm
        Beast-A-Tron said | January 17th 2010 @ 10:56pm | ! Report

        “Melbourne’s recent attempts to derail the FIFA WC bid”

        I was unaware the Lord Mayor was undertaking such actions.

        So apparently Melbourne does not embrace soccer, as I’ve heard often? I suspect it is a continual source of embarrassment (& cognitive dissonance) for certain anti-football zealots parroting the above line; seeing as Melbourne fields the best A-League crowds. Not to mention Victory dominating the A-Leagues’ short existence.

        For a state that does not “embrace all types of sports and all types of sportsmen and women” as you infer, it can sure turn out a crowd for sporting events. So what does that make the rest of the state capitals?

  • January 17th 2010 @ 12:56pm
    Marshall said | January 17th 2010 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

    I was waiting for someone to go with the building the events to be stolen angle.

  • January 17th 2010 @ 2:21pm
    BigAl said | January 17th 2010 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

    Not to put too fine a point on it – but sport ALWAYS thrives when/where there is little else to do.

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