The last dance played at
St.George's auditorium

The auditorium at St.George Leagues Club - once a prized venue for some of Australia and the world's best entertainers - is now an empty shell.

And patrons such as Alan Farrell of Monterey are not happy.

After 20 years, Mr Farrell (70 years of age), has severed ties with the club over the closure.

Mr Farrell said the auditorium held a lot of fond memories for him.

"We used to go there all the time - to the pictures, the dances, the vaudeville shows," he said.

"But it's not like the club we all went to. Now there's nothing for older people."

Club General Manager Danny Robinson said the auditorium's dated construction and the State Government's increased poker machine tax had given the club no alternative but to close it. And it was likely to stay that way for some time, as refurbishing it was not on the club's essential expenditure list.

However, the club was considering alternative uses for the area including turning the auditorium into hotel rooms.

"It would be a compatible business venture for both the hotel operator and for the club," Mr Robinson said.

He said the auditorium, which occupies the top floor of the club, was built 40 years ago and did not comply with fire and safety ordinances.

"We were in the process of fixing it and had completed the first stage which was to gut it," Mr Robinson said.

"Progress was under way to make the auditorium more multipurpose, but then it all stopped because of Bob Carr's poker machine tax."

The auditorium never yielded a profit for the club and everything that went on in there was improvised, Mr Robinson said.

He said the club had a positive cash flow and no debt, but its financial position would be jeopardised by the tax increases which come into effect on September 1.

"In the first 12 months our tax payments will increase by $1 million and by 2011, we will be paying $8 million. That's unaffordable," Mr Robinson said.

"All capital expenditure will be halted except for expenditure on absolutely essential things that need work."

A downstairs area in the club, the Premier's Lounge, is where all the entertainment will be staged while the club decides what to do with the auditorium.