Jobs and economic stimulus are at the key drivers for a major push to build a Sunshine Coast entertainment, convention and exhibition centre.
So says Major Projects Portfolio councillor Debbie Blumel who chaired the team that completed the feasibility study for the centre after securing an Australian Government grant for the project.
Cr Blumel said “Our study shows that the preferred option for the Entertainment, Convention and Exhibition Centre and Precinct would have a positive annual economic impact of $53.3M, create 307 jobs and boost regional annual incomes by $13M.”
The Sunshine Coast Entertainment, Convention and Exhibition Centre is expected to include a main auditorium for about 4,500 people with mixed tiered and flat seating. It would require a 3,000 sqm exhibition hall with flexible walls to allow it to be used in a range of configurations. It would also include a range of meeting rooms, a full commercial kitchen, and car parking and public transport facilities.
Cr Blumel said that previous councils had talked for a decade or more about building a theatre and exhibition centre in Maroochydore but it failed eventuate.
Cr Blumel said, “Very early in our feasibility study, councillors unanimously rejected the proposal from the former Maroochy Council – the so-called ‘Michael Bloyce Report’ (Sunshine Coast Daily,14 December 2011).
“It was rejected because economic analysis showed that it would actually have a negative employment impact, a negligible economic impact, and would need to be subsidised to the tune of $1.5M per year. Analysis showed that it would weaken and cannibalise the existing venues and market for touring performing arts.
“Further, following many years of talking up the idea during the days of the former Maroochy Shire Council, there was no empirical evidence to support the demand for or financial feasibility of the proposed Bloyce facility.
“On that basis, Councillors directed the project team to turn their attention to a new option which would boost the regional economy and create jobs.”
Cr Blumel anticipates that the centre will become the jewel in the crown of the emerging Maroochydore Principal Activity Centre. “It will activate Maroochydore by attracting people and generating economic activity. It will be a driver and an enabler of development that ripples out from this centre point,” she said.
“Other Queensland regions that are smaller than the Sunshine Coast already have such centres which provide for regional conference, convention and exhibition industries as well as entertainment. By not having such a centre, we are missing out on many entertainment, convention and business opportunities.”
The final report was completed in September and is expected to come before Council in the New Year.