SYDNEY business leaders have called for the demolition of the Sydney Entertainment Centre to allow for an expansion of the exhibition and convention space at Darling Harbour. In a submission to the NSW government, which is reviewing the future of South Darling Harbour, the Sydney Business Chamber says demolishing the Entertainment Centre and its car park would make room for an extra 20,000 square metres of exhibition space in a multi-purpose facility with a hotel.
But the proposal to pull down the largest indoor concert venue in Sydney’s CBD has met concern from the music industry. A promoter, Michael Chugg, said it would be ”a horrible thing to see the Entertainment [Centre] disappear”.
A music industry analyst, Phil Tripp, said it would be ”kind of crazy to take a venue that has been recently renovated and destroy it”, which would leave the Acer Arena at Homebush Bay as Sydney’s only large indoor concert venue.
”We have so few venues in Sydney, they have those huge mothers out there at Homebush: the 15,000-seater which is Acer, and then we have 10,000-seater Entertainment Centre and after that there ain’t much,” he said.
But the chamber’s executive director, Patricia Forsythe, said Sydney was losing conventions to cities including Singapore, Beijing and Seoul because of a lack of suitable space near the CBD, and the most logical place for more space was at Darling Harbour.
”We need more convention space in the CBD to attract high-profile international events to Sydney that will boost the economy and cement Sydney as a regional business and cultural powerhouse,” Ms Forsythe said.
There would be a shortage of venues if the Entertainment Centre was demolished but it would only be for a ”a short period of time”. ”I think most of us think the Entertainment Centre might be unique but it’s a 1980s-style [venue] and we can do much better,” she said.
The Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority owns the Entertainment Centre, which has struggled in recent years as the Acer Arena has flourished. The Entertainment Centre’s general manager, Steve Romer, said he was not permitted to discuss his venue’s performance except to say ”it’s going well”.