Sydney Set To Demolish Entertainment Centre For Replacement Music Venue
Sydney is set to lose another live music venue, but not for long, as NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell today confirms that the NSW Government has approved a plan to demolish part of the Sydney Entertainment Centre, Convention Centre, and Exhibition Centre at Darling Harbour for a $1 billion makeover.
The expansion and renovation of the facilities is expected to take three years, with the 30-year-old Sydney Entertainment Centre looks certain to be demolished to replaced by a smaller but more modern performance venue.
Over the years the Entertainment Centre has played host to a range of big name artists such as Elton John, Dire Straits, David Bowie, and Pearl Jam, and is set play host to The Black Keys on their forthcoming tour.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, O’Farrell hopes to build a more modern and upmarket replacement on the site of the current Entertainment Centre, expected to seat at least 8000 people, significantly less than the current maximum capacity of 13,250.
Although the Entertainment Centre is ageing, it isn’t the focus of the makeover which plans on upgrading the existing conference facilities so that New South Wales can remain competitive for major events in the Asia-Pacific region.
“They will bring NSW an economic benefit of more than $1 billion over five years,” the Premier said of the upgrades. “NSW has already lost $150 million in economic benefit over the four years to 2010-11 because the current facilities have not been able to accommodate 169 conventions and 12 exhibitions.”
“The NSW government is creating a vibrant world-class convention, exhibition and entertainment precinct at Darling Harbour that will keep Sydney centre stage as Australia’s global city.”
The private sector are funding the project, with the New South Wales Government pledging to cover costs for the life of the facilities.
The Sydney Entertainment Centre, Convention Centre and Exhibition Centre are all expected to close late 2013 and won’t be reopened until the end of 2016 at the end of construction.
It comes at a time of nationwide turmoil with live music venues, particularly in Melbourne including the East Brunswick Club which said goodbye last month, The Arthouse, and The Public Bar. Also in the last two years Brisbane has lost The Troubadour, Sydney has lost Low Bar, Tone Bar, the Gaelic, and The Hopetoun.
But despite the good intentions of the state government, the closure of the venue for three years does raise a serious question – what venue will music promoters use in the meantime for acts that size?
They could go to Allphones Arena, but that has a capacity of up to 21,000, nearly double that of the Entertainment Centre. Hordern Pavilion, another popular music venue, only has a capacity of 5,500.
Will promoters take the plunge with a higher capacity venue such as Allphones? Probably not.
More likely we’ll see a lot more shows at the Hordern, an intimate replacement most Sydneysiders should enjoy while they can.