It’s hoped Robbie Williams, seen here performing in 2012, will help boost crowd numbers. (Reuters: David Moir)
The South Australian Government has refused to say how much taxpayers will fork out for Robbie Williams to perform at next year’s Supercars season opening race event, but is promising the British pop superstar will “more than pay for himself”.
Williams’ appearance will mark a return of the Sunday night post-race concert at the Adelaide 500, which has struggled to draw a crowd to its final day in recent years.
Only 65,000 fans attended this year’s Sunday race, which was not accompanied by a night-time concert because of a date clash with the Adelaide Festival.
The Sunday figure was down from 95,000 in 2013 when US rockers Kiss performed.
The event is also struggling to find a new major sponsor after long-term partner Clipsal decided not to renew its naming rights deal.
When asked how much the Government would pay Williams, Premier Jay Weatherill replied, “we don’t reveal that”.
“We got a great deal and Robbie will more than pay for himself,” he said. “I’m sure the crowds will come in their droves.”
Next year’s race weekend will be the 20th instalment of the Adelaide 500, which was first held in 1999 and was originally organised to fill the void left by the Grand Prix, which moved to Melbourne three years earlier.
Williams, whose 2000 hit Supreme was released with a film clip featuring the singer dressed as a Formula One driver, attracted 60,000 fans to Football Park in 2006.
He also performed at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre in 2015.
Next year’s Adelaide 500 Sunday night gig will be on March 4, less than a fortnight before the state election, and the timing was not lost on the Premier.
“It’s a collateral benefit if people go to the election feeling good,” Mr Weatherill said, and also predicted Williams’ presence would result in “massive flow-on effects” for the economy.
The race has always enjoyed support in the suburbs around Holden’s Elizabeth manufacturing plant, but next year’s will be the first in Adelaide following the carmaker’s Australian exit.
SA Tourism Commission chief executive Rodney Harrex would not be drawn on whether that would impact on crowds, but acknowledged it was a mistake to get rid of the Sunday night concert.
“We’ve listened to the people and we’ve brought [it] back,” he said.
But he would not comment on how close the event was to securing a new major sponsor.
“We’re in discussions with potential partners,” he said.