AUSTRALASIA - As Sydney pushes ahead with billion-dollar investment in its convention centre and Darling Harbour Precinct, two consortiums are left in the running to operate the new integrated convention and entertainment precinct.
The lack of a world-class convention centre, according to New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell, has cost Sydney AUS$150m (US$144m) in lost business and economic impact in the last four years.
The VeNuSW consortium is led by Australia’s Plenary Group and Brookfield Multiplex and includes Suntec Singapore, Live Nation Entertainment and MCI.
Suntec International’s Chief Commercial Officer Ong Wee Min told CMW at a special Suntec/CMW buyers’ breakfast forum in Frankfurt last week he believed Suntec’s experience and networks, particularly in Asia, made the VeNuSW project an exciting new venture for knowledge transfer.
Suntec also reports signing a deal to design and manage a new conference centre in Penang, Malaysia and renewed a new international sales and marketing deal with Adelaide Convention Centre (see more detail below). The Light in Penang will be able to host 3,000 delegates when completed.
AEG Ogden leads the other Sydney consortium, Destination Sydney. It also includes Lend Lease Project Management and Construction, Spotless Facility Services, Lend Lease Developments, Capella Capital and InfraRed Capital Partners.
A decision on the winning bid will be announced by the end of the year. The project is scheduled for completion by 2015-16.
The Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre was constructed in 1988 and despite an expansion in 1999, is in need of further modernisation and expansion.
New facilities, as reported in CMW previously, will include the biggest meeting room space in Australia at 6,000sqm, largest exhibition space in the country at 40,000sqm, and eventually a plenary hall able to accommodate more than 10,000 delegates.
O’Farrell has said Infrastructure NSW (INSW) would lead the delivery of the new facilities, having developed a Public Private Partnership (PPP) tailored for the project, which would create better value for the taxpayer and reduce government risk.
He said the size of the precinct had been increased 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 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," he added. “The project will boost the competitiveness of the NSW major events industry, ensuring we don’t miss any more opportunities. NSW has already lost $150m 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 $1bn over five years.”
The Request for Proposals issued to the consortia bidding for the project, O’Farrell described, as “a major step towards selecting the winning proposal by the end of the year” .
Meanwhile, Suntec has, 1 June, announced the renewal of its partnership agreement with Adelaide Convention Centre (ACC), the first purpose-built convention centre in Australia. Under the new contract, Suntec International will continue to be the sales and marketing representative to spearhead efforts in drawing more meetings and events from Asia to Adelaide.
“As a pioneer in Asia’s MICE industry, we have the knowledge and extensive sales network that will help our clients gain direct access to the Asia market. This continued collaboration with the Adelaide Convention Centre bears testimony to how clients can tap on Suntec International to broaden their reach and visibility in Asia,” said Suntec CEO, Pieter Idenburg.
“This successful conclusion of the contract also represents a seal of approval for the hard work and results which my team has delivered,” Idenburg added.
Alec Gilbert, Chief Executive of Adelaide Convention Centre, said: “In the past year, Suntec Singapore has provided us with valuable leads from various associations in Asia. We are pleased with the head start and decided to continue the partnership agreement.”
The Adelaide Convention Centre is currently undergoing a US$350m redevelopment programme. The first stage of the redevelopment, due to complete in 2014, will see an addition of
4,300sqm of convention, function and meeting spaces as well as a new ballroom. The second stage, which is expected to be ready by 2017, will include a 3,500- seat plenary space.
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