The new, temporary home of major trade and consumer events in Sydney, Sydney Exhibition Centre @ Glebe Island (SEC@GI), is now open for business.

The interim facility, to be utilised from 2014 to 2016 during the development of Sydney’s international convention, exhibition and entertainment precinct at Darling Harbour, recently held a trial event, with 500 industry members, to test the waters in preparation for its inaugural trade event in February.

SEC@GI general manager, Malu Barrios said the trial event, held on January 23, went off without a hitch.

“We tested all aspects of the site – ferry, bus and taxi services, catering, communications and parking – everything involved in making an event happen and everyone was positively surprised with the caliber of the venue and its services.

“All our hard work has paid off and there is soul in this place now, and that’s because of our team,” Ms Barrios said.

“We have 22 full-time staff, the majority of whom are former Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre employees, and that’s very reassuring for clients.”

Managed by AEG Ogden, the venue offers 20,000sqm of pavilion-style exhibition space across four halls, with an additional 5000sqm for temporary expansion. The facility’s opaque delta-style roofing is a key architectural feature, streaming sunlight into each hall.

High-quality food and beverage outlets are another a major component, with Dockside Group awarded the three-year exclusive contract.

The venue’s very first event, the Reed Gift Fair (the biggest annual gift and homewares event in NSW) will occupy all five halls from February 15 to 19 with more than 30,000 delegates expected across the five-day program.

There are close to 20 events already scheduled for 2014 and Ms Barrios is confident this number will increase as more and more industry members experience the venue.

“The industry is going to make this work. Everyone is backing us and support us.”

The Glebe Island venue also features a 500-space car park, a sizable loading dock (apparently it’s even bigger than that at the SCEC), and is the only vantage point in Sydney from which all three of the city’s bridges can be seen – that’s the Sydney Harbour Bridge, ANZAC Bridge and Glebe Island Bridge. Transport to and from the venue includes scheduled six-minute ferry services by Captain Cook Cruises from Darling Harbour as well as bus shuttle services from Central Station.

–  Lauren Arena