With the announcement imminent of who will build a temporary exhibition site at Glebe Island in Sydney, organisers are embracing the city-based venue that aims to host events displaced during the three-year closure of the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre.

BY BRAD FOSTER

Exhibition organisers have brushed off concern from some quarters that a temporary exhibition structure built at Glebe Island near to Darling Harbour will be a white elephant, with major players saying they will be using it for their events during the closure of the current centre at the end of 2013.
Plans remain sketchy on what Glebe Island Expo will look like, however, it is expected to provide 15,000 square metres of exhibition space in what the NSW government is calling a “high quality, fully serviced, air conditioned pavilion”. An extra 10,000 square metres of space will also be available for exhibitors to temporarily expand the space for larger exhibitions and trade shows.
Leichhardt mayor, Darcy Byrne, was reported recently as saying that unless pedestrian access was improved and better parking options considered then Glebe Island Expo, as it has now been called, could become a white elephant.
But not so says the exhibition sector.
The Boating Industry Association of NSW, the organiser of the multi-million dollar Sydney International Boat Show expects to use the facility during the expected three year closure of the current convention and exhibition centre at Darling Harbour.
Marketing and events manager at the Boating Industry Association of NSW, Domenic Genua, told micenet AUSTRALIA creation of the temporary facility at Glebe Island is a must for the exhibition sector and the thousands of businesses who count on them for business continuity.
“Whilst the other facilities around Sydney are excellent, they simply cannot accommodate many shows for a number of reasons. Apart from the fact that many have existing events, they are also too small for many events. Without Glebe Island our show would be compromised greatly,” Mr Genua said.
“We currently occupy all of the available exhibition space in the existing facility. We complement this with our purpose built marina in Cockle Bay. The marina will remain in Cockle Bay, but we need undercover exhibition space for our out-of-water exhibits.
“Our research shows that on an annual basis, visitors to the Sydney International Boat Show alone spend $19 million dollars outside of the event. [NSW Minister for Planning and Infrastructure] Brad Hazzard is certainly correct that Glebe Island Expo will bring a large amount of money to the NSW economy.”
Mr Genua said any concerns about parking and access could be allayed with planning.
“Luckily we have time on our side. As long as we clearly understand who is responsible for the transport planning, each show organiser can provide them with their expected visitation numbers. This should allow that organising party enough time to prepare and correctly deliver a parking and transport solution. If the government’s vision for transport is well executed, no one should have anything to worry about.”
Another major player in the exhibition sector, Diversified Exhibitions Australia, says without creation of Glebe Island Expo many new exhibitions planned would not come to fruition.
Managing director, Matt Pearce, told micenet AUSTRALIA the Exhibition & Event Association of Australia’s latest survey points to plenty of new exhibitions being planned.
“Without the interim facility at Glebe Island being created many shows would simply disappear as there is insufficient exhibition space available in Sydney. Showgrounds will be able to absorb some shows and other venues around Sydney will absorb some too, but it is really important for there to be a CBD venue that is capable of accommodating serious shows and shows of real size and international standing,” he said.
He said subject to the structure and facilities being offered at Glebe Island Expo, Diversified would be using the temporary space.
Diversified has already raised concerns about parking and access.
“Nobody is complacent enough to suggest that it is a ‘build and they shall come’ scenario! We are being told by Infrastructure NSW that there will be sufficient ferries and buses, together with increased parking available to move people in and out. We remain concerned, but have agreed to work on this with both the winning proponent and the government.
“Undoubtedly we will all incur greater costs with the interim facility and transportation will be one of those increases.”
Operating 11 shows at the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre annually, Mr Pearce said Diversified will move some to the interim facility, some to the Sydney Showgrounds, some to Moore Park, and some to Melbourne.
“Exhibitions do far more for the visitor economy and for industry than is currently recorded or measured. The EEAA is doing something about that with research, but in basic terms, most exhibitions that Diversified run have overseas or interstate visitors or exhibitors all looking to do business in NSW and with around 100,000 visitors to our shows alone, it doesn’t take a lot of maths to understand the potential economic impact of not having an interim facility while the SCEC is being replaced.
“I just hope that the government doesn’t skimp on the new facility and that we get a venue that can stand the test of time and truly represent all that is great about Sydney.”
Exhibitions & Trade Fairs event director, Karen Krieger, says if the temporary structure at Glebe Island is suitable then ETF will be using it for some of its events.
“I’ll have my annual events Australian Business Events Expo, Sydney’s Event Showcase and ENTECH all hosted at the site. I think the opportunity to hold an exhibition at a new site has us and a number of our exhibitors excited about the opportunity to showcase some new ideas,” she said.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for our industry in particular to demonstrate how adaptable we are [and] what can be done when we think outside the square. I think it is an exciting challenge for the industry and [a] chance for us to get creative, put forward new ideas and shake up what we’ve been accustomed to doing.”

on board

Expertise Events’ Gary Fitz-Roy believes it is essential to maintain a city location. He believes the Glebe site offers the best solution over the three year closure of the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre and may even offer some new options for events.
“Let face it, Homebush hasn’t been a huge success for the industry, and despite many managers promising to make changes, getting to the right car park can be a challenge in itself! With the right planning and industry buy in and with the overseas terminal coming on line I think it [Glebe Island Expo] has great potential. We will be moving all our current bookings to the new site,” he said.
“It’s too late to debate whether the current facility should of had a facelift rather than a total rebuild and I think it’s important for the industry to make the most of what is being planned.
“My only concern would be if the government took a budget approach to the new facility. We need to ensure it’s built for the future and not for the re-opening in 2016!”
Reed Exhibitions managing director, Debbie Evans, said the company anticipates six Reed-run events will be affected by the closure of the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre, four of which will go to the Glebe Island Expo site if the government does what it has said it is going to do.
Ms Evans said they are pushing for 25,000 square metres of exhibition space to be built up front (currently the NSW Government is proposing 15,000 square metres with an additional 10,000 square metres).
Their four major shows held at Darling Harbour – two gift fairs, Hair Expo Australia, and its beauty show could be moved to Glebe Island Expo.
“We’re very pleased that the government has made a decision on this interim site but they now need to get on with it and make it happen because we sell our shows 12 months out,” she said.
Like others contacted for this article, Ms Evans said it was imperative to find a workable solution because so many business people rely on exhibitions for their livelihood.
“The shows we run put tens of millions of dollars into the local economy each year. What is also important is that so many small business operators rely on these shows for their livelihood.”
She said in the gift fairs there were many small business operators who relied solely on participating at exhibitions to stay in business.
“They don’t have sales forces or stores or any other means to market themselves – it’s all done through the exhibition,” she said.

value underestimated

Other exhibition organisers are also quick to point out that the sector plays such an important part in the economy and any new facility should reflect that.
The Boating Industry Association of NSW’s Domenic Genua says the value of exhibitions to the community and business is underestimated.
“Consumer shows bring entertainment and education to visitors as well as the opportunity to buy products they want, and the tradeshows do much for the business economy and cycle,” he said.
“In both instances exhibitions employ tens of thousands of people and support a myriad of businesses outside of the exhibition industry. Whilst many sectors benefit from exhibitions, the principal beneficiaries of exhibitions are the thousands of businesses who participate to present their products and services to market.
“Exhibitions are part of the business cycle that helps businesses succeed, grow and employ people.
“Glebe Island Expo is not only necessary for the survival of the exhibition industry, but also for the thousands of businesses who utilise them as a strategic and important shopfront.”

At A Glance

Infrastructure NSW has already created some details on the temporary Glebe Island Expo site. Specifics at this stage include:

  • 15,000 square metres of space (each of the three 5000sqm spaces will be $16,000 per day).
  • An additional 10,000 square metres of space available for larger events
  • Hardstand floor finish
  • Minimum ceiling height of 6m
  • Loading dock
  • Air conditioning
  • PA system
  • Site WiFi coverage
  • F&B available on an event-driven basis
  • Temporary ferry terminal to be operating during event days
  • Event-driven shuttle ferry service connected to Darling Harbour (included in rental)
  • Event-driven CBD shuttle bus service (included in rental)
  • Taxi rank
  • Up to 1000 car spaces