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November 19, 2012

VIDEO -- New Sydney convention center progresses toward 2016 opening

At IMEX America, International Meetings Review turned its attention Sydney as the battle for the management of its new exhibition and convention center reaches its conclusion. The Land Lease and AEG Ogden consortium is fighting off bids from the Plenary Group, Brookfield Multiplex and Suntec International for what will be an iconic venue in an iconic meetings destination when it opens in 2016.

The city’s investment is backed up by hard evidence of the benefits beyond tourism that can be delivered as a result of an integrated economic development strategy, benefits that result in inward investment, skills migration and job creation in innovation-lead sectors. Until the appointed company gets the keys to Sydney’s new gateway for business, the city’s residual venues are pulling together to fulfill the interim void, as Business Event Sydney’s CEO Lyn Lewis Smith explains to IMR’s Australia editor, Alex Yeomans:


“We’re calling it short term pain for long term gain.  What will happen is we’ll see the convention center closed down at the end of 2013 and reopen in a whole new precinct at the end of 2016.  What it will be is a multipurpose convention entertainment and exhibition center fully integrated and for the first time in Australia, and possibly Asia-Pacific will be able to hold multiple large events at one time which will be great. That center will then be fully integrated into the university precinct, of University of Technology Sydney where the Frank Gehry building is being built.  So in that creative innovative hub, it also links up with multiculturalism in Australia in Chinatown, all integrated into the CBD so that 20 hectares will be rejuvenated, revitalized and we will be world class, and where the delegates will mingle with the 25 million locals that come to Darling Harbour every year.”

Jakki Temple, Executive Director of Star, commented:  “Everyone’s very excited about having a beautiful new convention center.  And the venues are really working closely together to make sure we’re still making an impact on the international business.

How Properties Will Benefit

Sydney, like most cities, collaborates to win business events because the international dollar is so important for the market.  But there are a number of independent properties as well as chain hotels that are working together and of course they’re benefiting from the period of time the convention center will be closed with that extra business.  But they are also a mindful of the fact that it’s going to increase their business when it reopens again.”

Lyn Lewis Smith of Business Event Sydney continues: “We know that over 50 venues can host 800 delegates or more, we have Royal Randwick, which is the jewel in terms of the race track but they’re going to build a purpose built convention and exhibition center and that is in the heart of the city.  Of course, we’ve got Sydney Olympic Park, which is hosting Rotary in 2014 and also the World Parks Congress.  So there are definitely challenges but we have some great new product coming online.  I think if you look at the Star, a multimillion dollar entertainment quarter in its own right with around 2,000 square meters of new entertainment and convention space.

Jakki Temple of Star:  We’re in a casino complex right now and as we all know they’re fabulous places to have conferences in.  The Star has numerous restaurants and small meeting spaces, it has three hotels including the brand new Darling which is a beautiful five star product which also has meeting space and then we’re building the event center, which will house events from a 1,000 up to 4,000 in various different capacities and it overlooks the Sydney Harbour.

Lyn Lewis Smith of Business Event Sydney:  I think the Beyond Tourism Benefit study that we did with the University of Sydney helped us build a beautiful business case to show that it is not just about the delegate expenditure, it’s about the long-term benefits of building the knowledge economy, building trade and investment opportunities and partnering with the government to meet the government’s objectives.

For more news on Australia's meetings industry, visit http://www.internationalmeetingsreview.com/australasia/business


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