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UPDATED: Watch CX-TV News on the Glebe Island Fiasco, here.
Sydney hosted 3,000 delegates from The Perfect China company this weekend, with countless events and tourism pouring an estimated $22 million into the city. But thanks to an insane decision to shut down the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, and demolish the nearby Sydney Entertainment Centre, there will be hundreds of millions of dollars worth of events bypassed for three years.
The state government announced the moves in 2012 and CX watched in amazement as the the peak industry bodies MEA (Meetings and Events Australia) and EEAA (Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia) sat meekly and said weasel words. Where were the organised protests with a hundred catering staff placarding Parliament? Where were the petitions? OK, too hard to arrange. How about an angry press release and a media campaign pointing out the massive financial losses to the city – indeed the state and the country – for the three years of construction, and the opportunity loss of legacy events that would taste and secure other cities including overseas into the future?
So just in case the Government and the feeble associations (we said they are lame on CXtra in June and got a private dressing down by EEAA Chief Executive Officer Joyce DiMascio who refuses to go on the record with any criticism of anyone) accuse CX of making trouble as there is no alternative plan, there always WAS an alternative plan. CX has publicised it several times. Please observe the image below, which shows the new proposed precinct…..
First of all, note the removal of the Sydney Entertainment Centre and its car park, replaced with high rise apartments. This is what the developers get for building the new ‘Theatre’ (grey box above the word ‘site’, mooted to contain 33% less seats than the current Entertainment Centre); the dual level (and thus compromised with structural columns) Exhibition Centre to the left of the freeway, and the white Convention Centre on the right of the road. Note the two ghost white hotel towers, these are the other developer payoffs.
So what, you say?
CX said the Harbourside Shopping Centre should have been purchased and demolished. Guess what? It is for sale. No one loves it.
Why didn’t the Government fork over the $120 million, buy the green dump pictured, and first build a new Convention Centre while the old one carried on? Then put the ‘theatre’ where the new Convention Centre is shown. Then (oh this is so hard to imagine, isn’t it?) build half the new PROPER single level Exhibition Centre at the left where the ‘theatre’ will now sit, so that at least half the current tradeshows could continue, and then extend over the current site when complete? Note the large reduction in overall site footprint caused by removing the Entertainment Centre and its carpark. Reclaim some of it via buying Harbourside, we said. No one listened.
The developers still get the hotel and the old Entertainment Centre with its carpark get ripped down so they can build and sell residential property.
For a lousy $120 million – let’s say the revenue from just 5 events like we have just had courtesy (and thank you) from The Perfect China company this weekend – we would keep all our events, AND build a great new facility without losing the thousands (yes thousands) of jobs that this needless shutdown will occasion. Not to mention the expertise of all the SCEC (Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre) and Sydney Entertainment Centre crew and staff who have been throw out of work.
It’s a loser plan. We get new facilities, with the very real possibility of further developer shrinkage. They have already ‘modified’ the approved plan, and clearly the incentive is the apartments and the hotel NOT the convention, exhibition and entertainment components from whence this whole disaster came.
So EEAA and MEA, what do you say to the CX plan? What do you say to anything? It’s all now too late anyway as the contracts have been signed with Lend Lease who have already set about pushing the boundaries to get more apartments onto the site.
UPDATED: Esther Chan writes in SMH thus: “The business development manager at Business Events Sydney, Kristian Nicholls, said 11 Chinese corporate incentive events had been arranged in the past year, up from nine the year before. “The increase is in line with the growing middle class in China. We are also relatively close, in the same time zone.”
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