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PROJECT: Melbourne Convention Centre

60030 Views 502 Replies 91 Participants Last post by  CP Doom

New convention centre, bridge for city's west
By Royce Millar
City Reporter
April 19, 2004

A new footbridge over the Yarra linking Southbank and Docklands will be part of a $330 million convention precinct the State Government is expected to announce in its April statement tomorrow.

The precinct's centrepiece will be a 5000-seat convention centre, or plenary hall, earmarked for the former Mazda site next to the Exhibition Centre, widely known as Jeff's Shed.

Business groups have lobbied for years for a new convention venue, arguing that Melbourne's existing 1500-seat centre is hopelessly outdated.

The State Government has been tight-lipped about details of the April statement and has refused to confirm whether the convention centre project would be included.

Government sources said they expected the project to be a public-private partnership, with a private group building the centre and leasing it to the government.

The managers of the existing exhibition centre - a government-appointed trust - are likely to run the new centre.

But the project will hinge on support from the Melbourne City Council, which will be under intense pressure tomorrow to contribute $43 million, including about $15 million for the bridge.

Yesterday's Government announcement that it would return control of Docklands to the council was clearly timed to encourage the council to support the convention centre.

Yesterday a town hall source said the council had demanded it get Docklands back in return for a contribution to the convention centre.

A private town hall briefing today will be the first formal council discussion on the project. A special council meeting to vote on the contribution has been hastily called for tomorrow to coincide with the April statement.

Lord Mayor John So strongly supports the new centre. He will have the numbers to approve a council contribution.

But the council is split, with as many as four of the nine councillors possibly opposed to council involvement.

Finance committee chairman and former Labor Party member Kevin Chamberlin said yesterday the council administration had confirmed that a large contribution would result in service cuts, a rate rise, or both.

If the convention centre was to be a public-private partnership the council should not contribute, he said.

The Committee for Melbourne called on the council to back the project.

"People come to these conventions with millions of disposable dollars and this has a remarkable knock-on effect for business in the city," executive director Janine Kirk said.

State MPs and councillors have questioned whether Melbourne needs a new centre, when existing venues such as the Docklands football stadium can seat 5000.

But the chief executive of the existing Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre, Leigh Harry, said that to compete for international conventions, Melbourne needed a centre with a large plenary hall, a large exhibition space, and plenty of smaller meeting rooms.

He said no existing Melbourne venue provided all three.

Mr Harry said among world cities Melbourne had slipped from fourth to 25th in the number of international conventions hosted.

He said that Melbourne's lack of convention capacity made it ineligible for 320 major international conventions.
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"And it attracted criticism for picking a $1 billion project, double that of Bovis' bid."

I think the point was that after commiting to so much money, a great design should have been a mandatory part of the package. Half of that with Bovis, and a more functional design could have been acceptable.
Agreed. A biscuit tin is an accurate impression of the hall! The National Gallery though I appreciate more and more with every year.
That's great news. :) I love the look of the towers lining the Yarra to the Bolte.
It's regreatable to have delays. But in the long term I'm not bothered which party is better at big projects. I'm still so glad that we are going to be getting the largest convention center in Australia. This is a project that will take some time to build, but will hopefully set the standard for a long time.

Another contribution to make our city more well rounded.
The car park is just temporary I think, the space will be built over in later changes. No point in making it special if it just gets knocked down again.
And the main convention hall itself will hold 5000..
Let them build it as big as they want afterall its THEIR money.Typical hyocritical response by the pathetic and out of touch local Liberal Opp no wonder big business has deserted them and they got such a thrashing at the election,
You said that but you don't find it worrying that the retail precinct is being designed by the people who designed the wonder that is DFO on Spencer Street?
^^ Excatly knocking down the sheds destroys any sense of soul or history of the area, something most Melbournians usually take pride in.
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