Not long after CXtra went to air on CX-TV (HERE) with our editorializing about the forthcoming shift of all Sydney tradeshows to Glebe Island next year, we had a rocket call from Joyce DiMascio, CEO of the Exhibition & Event Association of Australasia (EEAA). (The item in contention is at 14.00 in the June edition of CXtra, our talk show online).
Ms DiMascio was incensed that we had portrayed her association as ‘lame’ in its public position against the NSW Government, which had unilaterally declared it would bulldoze the entire Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre (SCEC) AND the Sydney Entertainment Centre, starting this Christmas. A new complex has since been announced, which has not impressed many events professionals as the tradeshow halls (for example) are in part contaminated with structural columns – a roadblock for efficient planning of a trade floor.
When the bulldozer bombshell was dropped in 2011, EEAA and MEA (which represents the meetings and events industry) were publicly quiet on the looming cataclysm which would decimate their Sydney membership. Since then, the NSW Government has announced an amazingly crazy plan to relocate all tradeshows during the three year construction of the new centre, attractively referred to as Sydney International Convention, Exhibition and Entertainment Precinct – or SICEEP for short.
CX has always said the replacement of SCEC could and should have been staged, the site lends itself to progressive expansion especially if the state had purchased the unloved Harbourside Shopping Centre next door which is now for sale. More on the footnote*.
Perhaps not strangely EEAA is all for Glebe Island Expo. CX is preparing a segment that will demonstrate how deeply unpopular this deserted wharf will be as a tradeshow destination, and shudder to imagine ENTECH, SMPTE or INTEGRATE would dare to try to pretend to exhibitors and visitors that this temporary shed will work.
So to the call from Ms. DiMascio. She used the word lame a dozen times in the first two minutes, because she says EEAA has been hammering the Government behind the scenes. In fact the Glebe Island Expo is a direct result of their lobbying. Furthermore as a former journalist she protests CX did not contact EEAA to establish its position before declaring it ‘lame’. If we had attended her member briefings, we would be better informed.
At that stage, and by email since, CX has invited Ms DiMascio to expand on what EEAA have said publicly (not much). She hasn’t.
So to conclude: we are not members of EEAA, so we could not have attended any briefing(s), and why the wall of public quiet? Given the lack of response (now) from Ms. DiMascio, we sincerely doubt any earlier approach to EEAA would have yeilded anything useful. MEA are deadly quiet on all this.
Stand by for a whole lot more from us about the completely inadequate wasteland that is Glebe Island, and if any firm is in possession of any prospectus or claim from one of the large tradeshow organisers offering space at Glebe Island Expo for any event between 2014 and 2017, please share it with us.
* WHY THE REDEVELOPMENT IN SYDNEY?
Normally something as massive as this takes a lot of consultation. But no one seems to have asked the events industry what they want, unless they did it with MEA and EEAA and those associations didn’t tell the public.
Because NSW had stalled under an inpept (previous) Government, when the new guys won they needed a fast kick start. Without much process, they threw the hat into the ring called developer submissions and left it to the consortium’s to come up with a plan for Darling Harbour.
Naturally they did, and it is heavy on hotels and residential apartments. The tradeshow halls are compromised since there is less column free space in the winning bid than exists now. The replacement for Sydney Entertainment Centre will have less than 9,000 seats – possibly way less – down from the 12,000 we now have.
How they SHOULD have done it: Buy and demolish Harbourside. No one likes Harbourside. It is for sale right now. Build a new convention centre there. THEN demolish the current Convention Centre. Build a hotel with yet more convention rooms there (to pay for it), with link to the Exhibition Centre – if that is what we need. Expand the current exhibition halls out over the roadway behind and up – result? More loading docks, more space above! The complex is still perfectly good, it opened in 1988! Demolish the Entertainment Centre and its car park, and build a new one with apartments on top to pay for it.
Result: no lost conventions or tradeshows, better bigger facilities, and yes no Entertainment Centre for 2 years.
New development pictured below, click for expanded view. Harbourside is the green thing at bottom right, the ghosted towers behind is the new hotel(s). On the centre far left are apartments where the Entertainment Centre now sits. There is NOTHING here that could not have been achieved IF they just asked CX first!
Who to blame? The (newish) Government will say ‘no tax payer dollars!’
Now you can bet the consortium will scale back wherever possible on the convention, exhibition and entertainment venues, and then the EEAA and the MEA will say ‘we always knew this would happen’.
But they don’t say it now, because they are lame.