Adelaide’s $100 Billion Vision Grand

Adelaide probably needs a new moniker… the City of Churches hardly sits well alongside the billion dollar boulevard they’re erecting right now in a move more typical of Sydney or Melbourne.

By GRAEME KEMLO 

All told the state is currently committed to a $100 billion spend on infrastructure. It is most obvious in Adelaide where the cranes are busy around the city, particularly along the city’s major thoroughfare, North Terrace and the adjacent River Torrens.
If there was a global meltdown or a recession hangover, nobody told South Australia, which is pouring more than $3 billion into a world-class convention, entertainment and research precinct dedicated to its business events and conventions, medical research, academics, the arts and sports.

Sweep your eye or your mind along the Terrace and the Torrens and major new infrastructure is underway from east to west. There’s redevelopment planned for the Royal Adelaide Hospital site, a $400 million overhaul for Adelaide Festival Centre and Festival Square, a $300 million expansion of Adelaide Casino, which will include a new luxury hotel, signature restaurants and bars, rooftop entertainment facility and international VIP gambling suites, and a $350 million expansion of Adelaide Convention Centre to include a 3200 seat plenary.

Also underway is Adelaide Oval’s $534 million upgrade, and at the west end the $200 million futuristic-looking South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) is due to open this year, while the new $2 billion Royal Adelaide Hospital is scheduled for completion in 2016 as a public private partnership.
The Adelaide Convention Bureau recently announced that it had forged a relationship with SAHMRI and was delivering results before the institute even opened its doors: $62 million in state economic benefit has been attributed to convention business linked to SAHMRI over the next three years with another $91 million in the pipeline.

Apart from medical research other industry sectors Adelaide is keen to attract for meetings include: minerals and energy, bioscience, water, defence, aerospace, education, advanced manufacturing and aquaculture. It has already won some business in these areas: the World Aquaculture Congress 2014, Defence + Industry Conference 2014 and International Congress of Asia Scholars 2015.
Many of the new developments have the potential to positively impact the business events sector with the Adelaide Convention Bureau saying the presence of a world-class convention centre, medical research centres, a major new hospital and university campuses all located within metres of each other, means that “Adelaide’s fully integrated riverbank precinct will offer exceptional infrastructure and benefits for conventions”. A short walk away is accommodation, food and tourism attractions, plus a free tram around the city.

And two new city hotels are under construction: the 170-suite four-and-a-half star Mayfair Hotel, a $32 million redevelopment of the heritage-listed Colonial Mutual Life building on King William Street featuring three executive floors is due to open in Q1 2014; and a $65 million 17-storey, three-star premium economy Ibis Adelaide Hotel with 311 rooms plus conference and meeting facilities is also scheduled to open early next year.

Existing hotels are undertaking refurbishment in anticipation of a boost for business in 2014, including the four-star Mercure Grosvenor which has updated its 245 guest rooms and seven meeting rooms for up to 300 (banquet) or 250 (theatre); Stamford Plaza Adelaide has also refurbished its 334 guest rooms and offers 10 meeting rooms, including the Terrace Ballroom for up to 350.

Accessibility assured

Adelaide has come a long way since 1987 when it was Australia’s first capital city with a dedicated convention centre. Now she’s the “20 minute city”, indicative of her accessibility compared to some other capitals. But South Australia has also moved to ensure easy access for visitors from other states and from overseas, inking a deal with Emirates to fly daily from Dubai to Adelaide alongside other major carriers, Malaysia Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines.
The first real test for the newly developed infrastructure will be the Ashes cricket test at Adelaide Oval, starting December 5. Together with new stands and public seating totalling 50,000, there has been significant enhancement to the event spaces, now capable of holding a board meeting for 18 in the President’s Room or a full banquet for 1200 overlooking the city in the City View Room.

The Tour Down Under cycle race in January will benefit from a rejuvenated Victoria Square with $24 million being spent on turning it into an event lawn and plaza for up to 10,000 people by December this year. For the January event it will become the tour village and a hub for cycling fans with a bike expo, food and beverage outlets plus event merchandise on sale.In all this modernisation, the traditionalists have not been forgotten and Adelaide Oval’s famous Moreton Bay fig trees, its historic scoreboard, the northern mound, and the views of St Peter’s at the cathedral end have been maintained. What is new though is the ground, since the old hallowed turf was dug up and given to fans while a new batch was being grown.

Regions

Easy access to the regions is also key to winning business events.

While heavy promotion has put Kangaroo Island firmly on the map over recent years, with the island receiving cruise ship visits, it seems Barossa is the new poster girl with the quirky television advertisements.
The Barossa has some unique venues such as Chateau Tanunda, which not only boasts a ballroom for 470 (banquet) and a long room seating 80 at one table, plus outside terraces for cocktail events, but it has its own professionally-maintained cricket oval with a capacity of 1500.

With the Adelaide Hills offering a picturesque wine and culinary focus, some magnificent accommodation and interesting delegate experiences, it is probably first in line for post-conference touring from the city, or for an offsite dinner. Novotel Barossa Valley Resort is a perennial favourite with 140 apartments, of which 116 are studio rooms and 24 two-bedrooms. For residential meetings, it caters for the largest: up to 250 (theatre) with a pre-function capacity for 280; or the smallest: two boardrooms for 18.

For those seeking an adrenalin fix, Port Lincoln has the ultimate – shark cage diving with the great whites, but the good news is that they don’t use berley (preferring an audio vibration attractant)… but I want to know if that means they’ll be hungrier for a chunk of homo sapien on arrival?