The Crows' average attendance at Adelaide Oval is more than 47,000 - 16 per cent ahead of projections - lifting their average total attendances up 8000 to 38,230.

The Crows' average attendance at Adelaide Oval is more than 47,000 - 16 per cent ahead of projections - lifting their average total attendances up 8000 to 38,230. Photo: Getty Images

South Australian football boss Leigh Whicker has defended the high early cost of staging games at the Adelaide Oval stating: "We didn't want another Docklands on our hands."

As the AFL's brand new stadium continues to play host to the game's resurgence in Adelaide and defy the league's flagging attendance numbers elsewhere, Whicker said: "Our number one priority was to give our fans the best possible experience and that is why our early costs have been so high.

Referring to the difficult early days of Etihad Stadium, Whicker said: "We wanted a best-practice stadium and if we provide that the revenue will take care of itself. We provided more ground staff, more catering staff and as we go on the costs will come down."

And Port Adelaide chief executive Keith Thomas has poured cold water on suggestions that a serious row is brewing with the Adelaide Oval stadium management over poor early financial returns that saw his club net just $35,000 from its 50,000-plus crowd in the Showdown against Adelaide.

"I'm defusing it," said Thomas, ''this is a great news story. This stadium is doing all that it promised to do and more. Everyone signed up for the review in July because we were all heading into the unknown.''

Ladder leader Port has averaged home crowds of close to  45,000 at its new home having budgeted for less than 35,000. It's total average attendance figure has jumped from 16th to 10th on the AFL table - up from  22,095 this time last season to 31,542, despite Saturday's 5500 attendance in Alice Springs.

Having budgeted to reap extra millions in memberships and corporate support, Thomas said his club would require additional profits of $3.9 million simply to break even. "Our projections were really ambitious," he said. "We wanted to hit the Adelaide Oval with momentum and we put ourselves on the line.

"There could be a sense we are shooting the lights out here but we are coming from a long way back."

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan is scheduled to chair a review of the stadium's opening months in July with  Whicker and both the Crows and Power whose respective chairmen, Rob Chapman and David Koch, have been taken aback by the early running costs of Adelaide Oval. Both clubs had voiced veiled calls for state government intervention after early castings included  an $18,000 fee for traffic management - a cost that has come back to $7000.

Adelaide Oval has also proved a significant filip for the Crows. The club's average attendance there is more than 47,000 - 16 per cent ahead of projections - lifting their average total attendances up 8000 to 38,230.

Whicker's SANFL, for so many years at bitter odds with Port and long criticised for bleeding both clubs of profits with its AAMI Stadium deal, no longer holds the licence to the two clubs that earlier this year passed back to the AFL.

"You might say they never should have gone to Football Park [AAMI Stadium]," said Whicker. "Just like it was said about Waverley. But it was crucial that they broke the shackles of cricket and its control of the stadiums. What we did have was a base to go back to on our terms."

Port Adelaide's resurgence has come despite the fact it remains ranked in the bottom six of all clubs in terms of football department spending - a factor generally seen as moving hand in hand with on-field performance.

Instead, the club sits two games clear at the top of the ladder with a home game in round 11 against St Kilda.

The club's $18.7 football budget in 2014 - some $3.5 million less than Collingwood's - is unlikely to jump significantly next season. "The decision we made was to reinvest in the product - coaching personnel, medical, recruiting, IT,'' Thomas said. ''We were really short on tools. Where we sit now and what we've got we probably don't think we're too far away."