Sport Australia has refused to detail the costs and work required to reopen the AIS Arena, prompting the ACT government to request documentation of the venue's problems for what looms as a state versus federal budget battle.
The Arena shutdown caused widespread anger in the capital after The Canberra Times revealed Sport Australia's decision to close its doors indefinitely.
Federal Sport Minister Richard Colbeck said the Arena was "no longer central to the activities of the [AIS]", limiting the federal government funding for the venue.
ACT Sport Minister Yvette Berry spoke to Mr Colbeck on Tuesday and asked for a detailed plan of what "infrastructure work" led to the Arena shutdown.
Sport Australia declined to comment on the costs of the upgrades needed, only saying the aged-base systems including "lighting, seating and other infrastructure" had been assessed.
It's understood Sport Australia loses money by overseeing the operations of the Arena, the largest indoor concert, sport and exhibition centre in Canberra.
Criticism of the way Sport Australia and the AIS have allocated their funding in recent years has led to the organisation rethinking their spending and use of major assets.
Mr Colbeck suggested the federal and ACT government's could work in partnership to revive the Arena, either as part of a lease arrangement similar to the one in place for Canberra Stadium or co-investment on upgrades.
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The ACT government does not lease the Arena, but Visit Canberra works with Sport Australia to schedule events at the venue.
The ACT government is understood to be reluctant to commit significant funds to a venue it doesn't own, but the Arena's closure will have a major impact on Canberra's events calendar.
"Before the ACT government can consider a financial contribution to the AIS Arena or make alternative plans we require more information and transparency from the federal government about its long term plan for the venue and the condition of the building," Ms Berry said.
"For several years I have repeatedly sought this information from the federal Minister for Sport and I am again raising this issue with Minister Colbeck following yesterday's announcement."
Mr Colbeck said: "Australia's sporting landscape has evolved in recent decades and the time has come to investigate what investments are needed to ensure the AIS can re-emerge as a global leader in training and sports science.
"We appreciate the AIS Arena is important, not just for local sport, but also the wider arts and entertainment sector in the ACT. It is important to note that the Arena however, is no longer central to the activities of the [AIS].
"The institute's role is to provide the best possible facilities for the development of athletes so they can perform at their best on the national and the global stage, it's not necessarily about providing an entertainment venue.
"Therefore the future of the AIS Arena is not just a matter for the federal government. It will also need to involve some contribution from the ACT. My door remains open for those conversations with the ACT government."
Mr Colbeck started a consultation process with several sports in February, asking them for input about what a "future AIS" should look like. One option is to sell half of the 65-hectare campus to the ACT government and turn the remaining space into a state of the art medical services hub.
The ACT government says the Arena's closure has not changed its plans to build a new rectangular stadium in Civic or at Exhibition Park, although the COVID-19 recovery plan has delayed the project.
The short-term indoor venue options appear bleak if the Arena remains closed, Guy Sebastian and Delta Goodrem already forced to cancelled tentative bookings.
The Canberra Capitals will meet with the ACT government on Wednesday to discuss their venue options, saying they had been "blindsided" by the shutdown.
Mr Colbeck said the federal government would take on most of the costs if it entered an Arena funding partnership with the ACT government.
"The dominant funding should lie where the responsibility lies," Mr Colbeck said on ABC Canberra.
"What we do with respect to the stadium is going to be another really important thing for not only the AIS but probably more so for the ACT.
"...I'm not walking away from it. If the ACT sees a future or desire to retain that facility as part of their infrastructure, that's fine. But my expectation is they would be some contribution towards that. It costs the AIS quite a deal of money on an annual basis to stay open and [be maintained]. If they wanted, for example, some form of long-term lease, we'd be happy to have that conversation.
"We need to understand what it is the ACT government wants. I'm up for the conversation. It's not my job as a federal government to plan facilities for the ACT. Can we play a role? Yes we can. And we've done that in a number of locations."
When asked what infrastructure work was required to reopen the Arena, and how much it would cost, Sport Australia said: "The forced closure of the AIS Arena due to COVID enabled an opportunity to do a detailed assessment of the facility, including aged base systems of the building such as lighting, seating and other infrastructure.
"As pointed out by the federal Minister for Sport, the Australian Sports Commission is prepared to be part of discussions with the ACT government about the role of the facility and the needs of the Canberra community."