NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell last week showed the government’s commitment to the business event sector when he announced a consortium comprising AEG Ogden, Lend Lease, Capella Capital and Spotless was the preferred group to transform 20 hectares at Darling Harbour into a world leading meeting, exhibition and entertainment precinct.

“Underscoring the need for new facilities, the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority advises that over the past five years the existing facilities have been unable to accommodate about 169 conventions and 12 exhibitions,” he said.

“These events could have created $150 million in economic benefit for NSW.”

The existing Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre will close in December 2013 with the timeline for opening of the new facilities in December 2016.

“The redevelopment goes far beyond improving facilities – it’s also about re-shaping the city. Darling Harbour already attracts 25 million people a year and this development will create a more vibrant place on Sydney Harbour,” Mr O’Farrell said.

Following the announcement, AEG Ogden’s director of convention centres, Geoff Donaghy, said the new venue would position Sydney as one of the world’s most desirable meeting destinations.

“Utilising our international operational and marketing experience and our global venue network, we plan on taking the meeting and events business to a new level through ICC Sydney,” he said.

Mr Donaghy, who will also assume the role of CEO of the new venue’s management company said the ICC Sydney would include:

  • Convention facilities capable of holding four fully separated concurrent events of more than 12,000 delegates
  • Total exhibition capacity of 40,000 square metres
  • An external event deck of 5000 square metres featuring city views
  • A premier red carpet theatre with a capacity of 8000 suitable for international entertainment acts and being used for major convention plenary sessions
  • A grand ballroom for up to 2000
  • A new ICC hotel complex with up to 900 rooms

Business Event Sydney CEO, Lyn Lewis-Smith welcomed the announcement believing that Sydney needs an iconic, contemporary and versatile meetings precinct.

“What’s been revealed delivers all of this and more. This innovation hub in the heart of Sydney will create opportunities to host more international events that help to drive our knowledge economy,” she said.

“The development of this state-of-the-art precinct will ensure Sydney maintains its leading position as Australia’s premier business events destination, driving value for both NSW visitor and knowledge economies.”