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Sydney’s SCEC will close for three years while replacement is built


The decision to close the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre for three years from late 2013 has raised fears about the Australian capital’s ability to stage major events in the interim.

New South Wales (NSW) premier Barry O’Farrell ended speculation about the Darling Harbour venue when he confirmed it would close while a replacement was being built.

In a statement O’Farrell said if a new centre had been constructed alongside the existing centre it “would have delayed completion of the project until 2019”.

Instead the new venue - set to be the largest conference and exhibition space in Australia and part of a AUS$1bn redevelopment of Darling Harbour - should open in 2016.

O’Farrell insisted Sydney’s major events industry would ‘remain open for business’.

He said: “Alternative arrangements are being investigated for events that would have been held at Darling Harbour during construction of the new, world-class facilities. Sydney Olympic Park, Moore Park, Sydney’s hotels, the Australian Technology Park, Allphones Arena and other venues in Sydney will play an expanded role in hosting conferences, exhibitions and entertainment during the construction period.”

But Joyce diMascio, general manager of the Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia, said the industry remained concerned about the provision of temporary facilities for large exhibitions.

“It was clear after our site inspection of proposed interim facilities at Moore Park that this location would not be suitable for large exhibitions and conferences,” she said. “It will be up to the organisers and PCOs to assess whether this option will be suitable for their clients and smaller conferences and exhibitions.”

She called on ministers to help secure suitable locations so that Sydney could stay open for business, telling reporters: “We need the government to invest in temporary facilities and make it as high a priority as the longer term plan. You can’t shut down Sydney for three years.”

Lyn Lewis-Smith, CEO of meetings bureau Business Events Sydney, said she did not anticipate losing business when the Sydney CEC is closed. She said: “BESydney will continue to work closely with clients and industry to ensure that it is well-known that Sydney is open for business.Sydney has a diversity of venue options that can be used as standalone venues, or as part of a combined solution for large events."

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