ACT sport minister Yvette Berry will be granted access to the AIS Arena audit that led to its closure this week after federal counterpart Richard Colbeck agreed to work with the ACT government.
The Canberra Times can reveal Berry and Colbeck spoke on Thursday afternoon, Berry seeking answers as to why the Arena was shut and the costs involved in fixing its problems.
It's understood the repairs to meet code requirements could cost up to $5 million, but who pays the bill is at the centre of a territory versus federal debate.
The ACT government benefits from events at the Arena, but it doesn't own the venue. Sport Australia oversees the operations, but Colbeck says is no longer part of Sport Australia or the AIS plan.
Some fear officials used the audit as an excuse to accelerate plans to close the arena, but it has left Canberra without its largest indoor concert, sport, exhibition and function venue.
Sport Australia started to inform users this week the arena was closed indefinitely, cancelling existing bookings and declining to put a timeframe on its reopening.
Berry said it blindsided the ACT government, which has grown increasingly frustrated after being left out of discussions about the future of the 65-hectare AIS campus at Bruce.
The ACT government pays $350,000 per year to lease Canberra Stadium from Sport Australia, but Sport Australia runs the arena.
Three different sport ministers and changes in leadership at Sport Australia have contributed to the lack of information, but Berry said Colbeck would work with the ACT after he floated the potential of a joint-funding arrangement this week.
"The sports minister [Colbeck] gave me three commitments. He committed to provide me with the details of the condition of the AIS Arena and the costs associated with repairs required for continued safe use," Berry said.
"He understands the importance of the AIS Arena for the Canberra community and he knows I have asked for this report from his predecessors.
"He committed Commonwealth government officials to work with the ACT government on this and I said the ACT community would not stand for any mucking around or delays with that work.
"They're still working through a plan for the AIS. I am more interested in the moment about the arena given the urgency around that, but of course we're interested in the entire facility."
Sport Australia says repair work on lighting, seating and "other infrastructure" needed to be done before the venue could reopen after completing a recent audit of the venue.
The Canberra Capitals will meet with Berry next week to discuss venue options for their WNBL season given they cannot play all games at the National Convention Centre.
The future of the AIS Arena remains uncertain, with Sport Australia considering all options for a campus revamp. The arena is mainly used for Canberra events - sports, concerts, exhibitions or functions - but it is owned by federal government agency Sport Australia.
The ACT government is reluctant to invest money into a facility it doesn't own but it may need to offer financial assistance to ensure the arena reopens.
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"We've got no other choice. There is some urgency around this, [Colbeck] understood my frustration and committed to working with myself on a plan for the way forward for the AIS Arena at least," Berry said.
"I know there's a report [on the facilities at the AIS] ... I kept asking for the report when ministers changed and a commitment they would talk to us about the AIS, the whole facility, before they made a decision to do anything to it.
"I got that commitment in December, but something has obviously happened in the meantime."
Former Sport Australia boss Kate Palmer revealed the institute had ageing facilities worth $200 million when she fronted a hearing into Canberra's national institutions two years ago.
Palmer has since left and Colbeck has arrived as the sport minister, but there is no indication of when or if the federal government will make a decision about the future of the AIS.
Several options have been discussed in a detailed business plan, one option to carve off half of the land parcel and potentially sell some major assets to the ACT government.
The ACT government has continually delayed its own plans to build a rectangular stadium in Civic, deciding to wait for the AIS decision before making any major commitments.