News

11 Jul 2012

G20 proves NSW Government is MAD to demolish Convention Centre!

“The decision to host the G20 Summit in Brisbane highlights the dilemma faced by the exhibition and event industry which is still waiting for a government decision on interim facilities while new conference and exhibition facilities are built at Sydney’s Darling Harbour”. says Spice News.

The G20 decision was slammed by the NSW Government, who have still not announced what temporary facilities may be made available to the beleaguered conference and events industry in Sydney.

The NSW Government announced in April they would shut and demolish both the Sydney Entertainment Centre AND the Sydney Exhibition and Convention Centre from the end of 2013. At mid July the industry still awaits word on what form the proposed ‘temporary’ facility will take. Sydney will lose 27,500 square metres of exhibition space for a minimum of three years, probably longer, while a yet-to-be-announced private/public consortium builds a new 40,000 square metre facility along with an 8,000 seat arena (down from Sydney Ent Cent’s 12,000 seats) and conference and plenary spaces. The industry wants more than what is proposed, and without the insane shutdown.

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Sydney badly needs extra space – beyond 40,000 metres – but shutting what the city has for at least three years leads to losses like the G20 – one of the first and most obvious results. The NSW Government bid for the G20 on the basis that the Opera House, Museum of Contemporary Arts and presumably half of the CBD would be given over to the organisers – but that is what happened at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum which brought George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin, among others, to town. That time, the CBD was locked down around the Opera House, and the leaders used Darling Harbour as well.

Brisbane won the G20 for 2014 because it has a new and expanded convention centre.

Sydney will have nothing in 2014.

WHAT THE NSW GOVERNMENT SHOULD DO NOW

CX has already told them, and they already have ignored our informed advice. Refer to the picture, above from our MAY magazine. Item D is the unloved, unwanted, and financially screwed Harbourside Shopping Centre. It’s private owners will take a low offer – CX thinks well south of $200 million.

We say go demolish Harborside and the ENT Centre (marked A, above) and build new things,

Then build over the road behind B and C (as the Government has already bought-off the Monorail operator) and do a PROGRESSIVE expansion!

It’s too late for the G20, but if announced now the CX plan may save the other 50 major events, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, that will go begging for the three years that the pile will be shut down. That’s assuming they actually get something built within 3 years. Also assuming the private developers don’t go broke on the job, or water down the public assets as they build high rise residential and shopping infrastructure all over what is now the site for the soon to be closed Exhibition and Convention Centre.

MEANWHILE, the association Meeting and Events Australia are mute on the Sydney debacle, while the Exhibition and Event Industry Association are ever so slightly angry – but nodding to their powerful Melbourne and Brisbane constituencies. Their gentle poke at the NSW Government is here.

Leadership is lacking on this one. Where are the metrics – the dollars that will be lost, the events that will not happen, and the unemployment across the events and exhibition industry that certainly will hit, starting very soon. With certain decimation, good staff are already planning retreat from NSW.

Will the last person to move out of Sydney please turn out the lights?

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