The Australian Turf Club (ATC) is set to lose “hundreds of thousands of dollars” over the temporary closure of Randwick’s main grandstand due to safety issues.
ATC executive Darren Pearce said the transfer of next week’s George Main Stakes meeting to Rosehill would cost the club thousands of patrons and revenue but he was confident the stand could be used for Epsom Handicap day.
Engineers and builders will work against the clock to make the stand structurally safe for the flagship spring meeting on October 1.
“It’s going to have a financial impact,” Pearce told reporters on Friday.
“We think the crowd could go from something like 17,000 at Randwick to something like 9000 at Rosehill.
Pearce said it was necessary to close Randwick to allow builders time to demolish a section of the roof of the stand ahead of Epsom day.
“It (financial loss) will run into hundreds of thousands but we put safety first,” Pearce said.
Racecourse officials made the call to close the track after structural damage was discovered in the roof of the QEII stand.
Pearce estimated the club would spend $300,000 to make the stand safe for racing up until November 5 ahead of a $150 million renovation at the track.
ATC chairman John Cornish said the steel cables had not been installed properly when the stand was built in 1968.
“Normal wear and tear could have been expected but not like what’s happened here,” he told a media conference on Friday.
“This was a fair bit of carelessness at the time but goodness knows who could be held responsible.”
Engineers uncovered badly corroded steel cables holding up almost 100 tonnes of concrete roofing during preparation for the scheduled $150 million makeover.
However, the program of works to demolish the front section of the roof of the QEII grandstand has been brought forward and will commence immediately.
Engineers discovered the steel cabling had not been covered in protective concrete grouting, leaving them open to exposure to bad weather and consequently rusting and snapping.
“Importantly, this has given us all a bit of a shake up and probably highlights the need for new grandstands and theatres here at Randwick,” Cornish said.
However he said there would be no changes to redevelopment plans for the venue and construction was still expected to kick off after the last spring race meeting on November 5.
Pearce said engineers would begin work immediately to ensure public safety for the Epsom Handicap meeting.
He said officials expected the works to be completed on time, however wet weather could delay the program and the club had a contingency plan to race at Rosehill.