The Carpark Revolution

By John Dickson | Managing Director

Park your capital in facilities that almost guarantee growth

Nambour Car Parking

Nambour RSL Carpark Development

It’s no secret that we are a fan of investing in the bricks and mortar of your venue and for the past 10 years, DWS have supported and applied our proven car parking formula to many of the State’s successful clubs and pubs.

While it could be deemed a little dramatic, any reference to the great ‘carpark crisis’ is met with a knowing smile and a nod of defeat from venue managers. It has been over 10 years since two major clubs, Southport Workers Club (now known as CSI) and Maroochydore RSL, pioneered the development of multi-storey car parking. What is exciting however, is that we are seeing some traction in the marketplace with multimillion dollar carpark constructions currently underway or in planning stages for many clubs and pubs throughout Queensland and abroad.

The DWS Carpark Formula

Over a decade ago, the team at DWS analysed the parking needs of the average gaming venue in Queensland and developed a benchmark system to effectively answer the question; how many carparks do we need to grow our business?

The car parking benchmarks were calculated to assist venues in ensuring they did not overcapitalise on their operations, if there were insufficient car parking spaces for patrons to support it. Regrettably, there are still some venues who have invested in their facilities beyond the capacity of their carpark.

The formula is as simple as it is effective;

The Science Behind It

For a venue to maximise its trading opportunities with the below facilities it would require approximately 40 staff to operate. Based on our formula, it could be argued that 300 carparks would be required to sufficiently capitalise on potential growth.

This average venue has a patron capacity of 600, including staff. Observation would indicate that it would be reasonably conservative to assume that two people arrive at the club per vehicle on average. This would mean the number of vehicles spaces required to maximise the club’s facilities would be 300 (3 per gaming machine).

There is also evidence, particularly from retail shopping centres, that patrons are reluctant to park in full carparks. As a result, it could be argued that you should account for additional ‘free space’ in order for the carpark to be totally efficient and for patrons to feel confident that they will get a carpark when they go to your venue.

Easts Car Park

Easts Leagues Club Carpark Facility

The impact of insufficient car parking

The impact of insufficient parking facilities has been identified by many venues, particularly those with function or sporting facilities available. When large functions or sporting events are held, there is a significant reduction in the venue’s principal revenue area of for gaming.

Generally speaking, functions and sporting events tend to provide less bottom line impact compared to the offset required for lost trade in gaming.

It is no accident that the majority of successful clubs have a higher ratio of parking bays per gaming machine, for example Caboolture Sports Club, Easts Leagues Club, Southport Sharks Sporting Club, Carina Leagues Club, Maroochy RSL and Kedron-Wavell RSL Club, just to mention a few.

The huge impacts of ample car parking facilities are becoming a reality for some venues at the forefront of development. Venues are beginning to rev their engines as the parking revolution commences with major developments and planning projects underway already across Australia.

Graph - Carpark ratioQueensland clubs already on the road for growth include:

  • Easts Leagues Club (with first stage of their multi-storey carpark already completed);
  • Pine Rivers Bowls Club who recently commenced construction on a two-stage multi-storey carpark;
  • In just the last few weeks, Nambour RSL also received council approval for the construction of its multi-storey carpark;
  • Earlier this year, City Golf Club in Toowoomba acquired a council facility adjacent to the carpark to increase parking facilities by an additional 200 spaces;
  • The Waves Club in Bundaberg has also substantially increased its parking in the last two years and is acquiring property to further increase its parking capacity; and
  • Kedron Wavell RSL Club has been the beneficiary over many years of substantial parking facilities.
Pine Rivers Car Park

Pine Rivers Bowls Club Carpark Development

Does more parks = more revenue, or is there more to it?

There is no doubt that ample parking facilities is a key competitive element in driving revenues, and there are many venues discussing or planning multi-storey carparks or acquiring additional land for parking.

However, the carpark revolution must not be limited to just additional car parking spaces but also realising that customers are looking for quality parking offerings with ease of access and covered spaces. As many of the major shopping centres have realised, covered parking that is well laid out, clean, clearly signed and well-lit is a significant competitive advantage.

Covered Car Parks

The costs for covering parking bays can range from $3,700 per bay

It’s well known that the core market of clubs include female patrons aged 45yrs+, where significant carpark lighting is paramount in ensuring safety of these patrons. Carina Leagues Club have taken their parking game to the next level by installing speakers throughout their covered carpark playing music and promotional messages to engage and welcome their patrons from the minute they arrive until they leave.

What does this mean for venues?

In many of the venue strategic planning workshops DWS have conducted in the last three years, increasing parking facilities has been a number one strategy of those progressive venues, which in many cases has required real estate acquisition. However, there are challenges for some venues that are landlocked and may have to consider relocation to be competitive.

The smart venues are now asking the question before they renovate substantially;

Do we have sufficient parking to support our existing facilities?

If not, what should we do first?

DWS has conducted Financial Feasibility Studies on the development of additional parking for venues, particularly as opposed to answering the question around renovating or extending facilities.

For Committees/Boards to ensure they meet their fiduciary obligations, an independent evaluation of any renovation, extension or carpark construction projects should be obtained, before getting behind the wheel. In many cases, this independent analysis is a requirement for the banking and funding institutions involved and the basis of any well planned capital project.

Contact us to discuss the feasibility of your next expansion project on (07) 3878 9355 or


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