Burswood bounces back

PERTH’S dedicated convention and exhibition centre is guaranteed to be built in the Perth CBD and it is to include a soccer and rugby stadium.

Burswood International Resort and Casino, the only bidder proposing a site outside the CBD, has been excluded from the short list of preferred tenderers for the project.

However, a Burswood spokeswoman said the resort would continue with its $75 million expansion, which includes an enlarged convention centre.

Burswood’s bigger convention facilities will be able to cater to conventions with up to 1,800 delegates.

Construction on the project is due to begin in January and be completed in 2001.

The shortlisted applicants for the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre all expect to have the project finished by the first half of 2002.

The fact Burswood will have its centre finished first is a source of hope to the Town of Victoria Park.

Burswood is the town’s biggest ratepayer and its exclusion from the shortlist has disappointed the council.

Town of Victoria Park CEO John Bonker said Burswood’s ability to move first might still rule out the three bidders.

Perth Convention Bureau chairman Richard Campbell said the resort still had a major role to play in the marketing of WA as a convention destination.

He said Burswood and the dedicated convention centre would complement each other and increase Perth’s appeal as a destination.

“Really, both venues will appeal to different groups,” he said.

“The convention centre is more likely to appeal to educational, academic, government and religious organisations who traditionally would not use a venue that incorporates a casino.

“However, there are many other groups such as mining and corporate organisations that find a resort and casino complex more attractive for their delegates.”

The argument now is whether the convention centre will be built on a Northbridge site adjacent to Welling-ton Street or on the Perth Busport.

Many in the local convention industry seem to prefer the Northbridge site.

The Perth City Council also wants the Northbridge site which encompasses the area from west of the Horseshoe Bridge to the Mitchell Freeway.

Building the centre there would probably require the sinking of the Perth to Fremantle railway line, which would once again reunite Northbridge with the CBD.

Building the convention centre at the Busport would have the disadvantage of removing 1,340 well-patronised car bays.

The shortlist to build the convention centre comprises Leighton Contractors, a consortium of Multiplex Constructions and Accor Asia Pacific Limited, and a consortium of Lend Lease Corporation, John Holland Group, the Seven Network and Compass/Eurest Aust-ralian/Convex WA.

The WA Government has set aside $110 million plus a land component for the successful bidder, expected to be announced by March 2000.

In return it wants a centre capable of catering for up to 2,500 delegates with a separate 2,500-person banquet facility, twelve to fourteen breakout rooms with a total capacity of 2,500 people, 20,000 square metres of exhibition space, a minimum of 600 car parking bays, a stand-alone theatre and a 19,000-seat soccer and rugby stadium.

The new centre is expected to be worth an additional $2.2 billion to the WA economy in its first ten years.

It is also expected to create an extra 600 full and part-time operational positions when it is completed.

The lack of a convention centre has been a concern for Perth. The recent loss of the American Federation of Travel Agents conference to Honolulu has largely been blamed on the lack of a facility of suitable size to cater for such a large convention.

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