2 Mar 2015

Sydney’s new Convention Centre – Gains and Fails

At the end of NEXT year, Sydney will resume selling itself to international conventions with the opening of the International Convention Centre. Since the closure of the existing centre at the end of 2013, much business has been lost. As CX continually pointed out, it did not have to be this way.

Now a CGI walk through of the new facility has been released, and it is quite stunning. But what does Sydney gain?

  • 32,000 metres of trade show space -v- 27,500 before. But now on two levels, level one with pillars. (Fail).
  • 8,000 seat ‘theatre’. But we will lose the 12,000 seat Entertainment Centre. (Fail).
  • Grand ballroom. (Gain)
  • More meeting rooms (Gain)
  • Outdoor events deck (Gain, maybe)
  • Better loading dock (Big Gain)
  • Far less parking. Like, heaps less. (Big fail)

That’s about it. All this gain/fail, while the events industry has twiddled and waited, while countless events have wandered off to Melbourne, Brisbane and Singapore. The net loss to NSW ought to come out in the forthcoming State elections. It would be around about one regional hospital, or seven schools, or 2,500 more police.


The epic detail will emerge soon, on things like rigging grids, fittout, facilities, amenities. And space prices.

But to see the whole picture, consider the new facility sits on way less land than the old, with the whole entertainment centre and its car park given over to high rise apartments, plus the back end of the old convention centre now hosting a ‘signature’ hotel.

What could have been done?


They could have retained the existing centre, purchased the unloved and written down Harbourside Shopping centre (sold for $252 million recently), and done a rebuild in stages while the state kept its events. The net gain would have been a smaller regional hospital, or 4.5 schools, or 1,250 more police. And around 1,000 events jobs in the meantime.

But then the developers would not have made hay.



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