Randwick still unconfirmed for WYD
The NSW government has shied away from any official confirmation that next year's World Youth Day will be held at Sydney's Randwick Racecourse.
Nine months out from the event - in which more than 500,000 people will gather in Sydney - squabbling continues between organisers and racecourse lessees, the Australian Jockey Club (AJC), Australian Associated Press reported.
Randwick was one of 21 sites short-listed for World Youth Day (WYD) and WYD spokesman Jim Hanna said it was almost a year since representatives from the AJC, state and federal governments, and Catholic Church leaders jointly announced the venue.
However, racing industry representatives have since claimed the event will cost them millions of dollars in relocation fees, and they say it is unfair they are being asked to leave a site where they are permanent tenants.
"Negotiations are ongoing with the parties , parties are yet to reach an agreement as to the form of consent and permissibility of World Youth Day at Randwick," AJC group commercial manager Darren Pearce said.
"Until there is agreement the venue is not a certainty."
A spokesman for WYD Minister John Watkins said the racecourse was held in trust for specified public purposes.
"The government has consistently stated that the evening vigil and final mass for World Youth Day will be at Randwick Racecourse and Centennial Park," the spokesman said.
"Negotiations are continuing between the NSW government and the AJC about the use of the site.
Of the 21 sites originally considered for WYD, Randwick was the only suitable option, Mr Hanna said.
"None had the transport benefits available that Randwick does - Central Station, with 25 platforms, offers a lot more transport options," he said.
Other shortlisted sites included Sydney Olympic Stadium, Bankstown Airport and a big greenfield site at western Sydney's Doonside, called Bungarribee.
"Telstra Stadium is an excellent venue for hosting rugby league grand finals but is not a venue that can cope with up to 500,000," Mr Hanna said.
"We want to give people a genuine papal experience and we could not achieve this by having 80,000 people inside and 400,000 outside watching on screens."
Meanwhile, outspoken horse trainer Bart Cummings has renewed his attack on the Catholic Church and NSW Government for refusing to transfer the World Youth Day celebrations from Randwick.
"They should put all this nonsense aside and move World Youth Day to Olympic Park at Homebush," Cummings was reported in the Daily Telegraph today.
"With everything else that is happening at Randwick now we can't afford this to go ahead at the track.
"The course will be out of action for weeks over winter and it won't recover in time for the 2008 spring carnival. This would be the final straw for many trainers -it could force them out of the (racing) industry."
Cummings said the Australian Jockey Club has still not signed an access agreement to allow WYD workers onto Randwick to make necessary preparations to accommodate up to 500,000 pilgrims for the Pope's visit next year.
The NSW racing industry has lobbied unsuccessfully to have WYD activities transferred away from Randwick.
NSW govt shy on World Youth Day venue, October 5, 2007
Cummings lashes out at Church, October 8, 2007
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
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8 Oct 2007