NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has confirmed that around $1 billion will be invested in creating Australia’s first fully integrated convention, exhibition and entertainment precinct at Darling Harbour as the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre (SCEC) closes from 2013-2016 and the Sydney Entertainment Centre is demolished.
Infrastructure NSW will lead the delivery of the new facilities, which will increase the size of the precinct by two-thirds to 20 hectares, including Tumbalong Park and the monorail corridor, allowing for significant improvements to the public domain. The precinct also includes Sydney Entertainment Centre and car park, and the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre.
The Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre will close for three years as the entire precinct undergoes redevelopment
The current Sydney Entertainment Centre will be demolished to make way for the larger precinct and SCEC will be closed for three years while the upgrade takes place.
“The NSW Government is creating a vibrant world-class convention, exhibition and entertainment precinct at Darling Harbour that will keep Sydney centre stage as Australia’s global city.
“The project will mean a complete face-lift for Darling Harbour,” said O’Farrell. “The project will boost the competitiveness of the NSW major events industry, ensuring we don’t miss any more opportunities. NSW has already lost $150 million in economic benefit over the four years to 2010-11 because the current facilities have not been able to accommodate 169 conventions and 12 exhibitions.
“The new flexible facilities, combined with technological innovation and improved efficiency, will allow Sydney to tackle the Asia-Pacific market head-on, providing capacity and flexibility for ‘mega’ conferences and a range of other major events.
“And they will bring NSW an economic benefit of more than $1 billion over five years,” he said.
The new facilities will include the largest exhibition space in Australia at 40,000 sqm and the biggest meeting room space in Australia at 6,000 sqm, linked to both convention and exhibition areas. Additionally, it’ll offer the biggest Australian convention hall plenary space capacity for more than 10,000 people over four different areas, allowing multiple events to take place at the same time.
Also, a premium entertainment facility with a capacity of at least 8,000 people will be created for both international entertainment events and ‘mega’ conferences.
“This will mean a full closure of the current facilities at Darling Harbour during construction from late 2013 to late 2016,” he confirmed. “If we had staged the closure of the existing venues, this would have delayed completion of the project until 2019.”
“During the three-year construction period, Sydney’s major events industry will remain open for business.
O’Farrell said that alternative arrangements are being investigated such as Sydney Olympic Park, The Entertainment Quarter at Moore Park, Sydney’s hotels, the Australian Technology Park, Allphones Arena and other venues in Sydney to play a larger role in hosting conferences, exhibitions and entertainment during the construction.
Business Events Sydney (BESydney) has welcomed the Premier’s announcement saying it demonstrates a commitment to essential improvements to Sydney’s convention, exhibition and entertainment facilities and their understanding of the valuable legacies, both economic and social, that business events deliver to NSW.
“The closure of the existing Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre is an end to a stellar 25-year innings for these facilities,” said Lyn Lewis-Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Business Events Sydney. “But the decision gives the industry welcome certainty about timelines and the Government’s intention to fast track the project.”
“Change presents great opportunity. It’s time to really show how Sydney businesses collaborate and innovate and how we can accommodate a growing business event sector with agility and enthusiasm. Sydney has a diversity of venue options that can be used as standalone venues, or as part of a combined solution for large events.
“When you look back at the 93rd Lions Clubs International Convention in 2010, the 2010 Forbes Global CEO Conference, 2008 World Youth Day, the 2000 Sydney Olympics Games you’ll see it was not just one or two venues in the harbour city that made these events spectacular, but a raft of venues and a ‘whole-of-city’ approach. This is what makes the Sydney event experience like no other,” she added.
For further information and updates on the Sydney International Convention, Exhibition and Entertainment Precinct development click here.