Len Brown reconfirms support for SkyCity convention centre
Auckland Mayor Len Brown has reconfirmed support for the convention centre at the heart of a contentious deal between the government and SkyCity.
Mr Brown told an audience of business leaders at a recent Transtasman Business Circle lunch he supported the convention centre “totally” during a discussion about the council’s role in economic development.
“I support the convention centre, totally, not only because it will provide jobs for our tourism industry, but for a start it will provide 1000 jobs in the building of it,” Mr Brown said during his joint-address with Auckland Council chief executive Doug McKay.
Mr Brown said aside from transport issues, his focus as mayor was ‘jobs, jobs, jobs."
“We are coming out of a recession, we have unemployment rates for some youth in our community sitting at 30-35% for those aged 15-24 who are not at school.
“So we are most assuredly focussed on jobs.”
Casino and hotel operator SkyCity is proposing to pay the full $350 million construction costs for a centre capable of holding 3500 seated delegates. The payback for SkyCity would be changes to gambling regulations that would allow it to install more gaming machines.
The $350 million construction cost alone dwarfs any other individual building project in the country and will create an estimated 1000 jobs and provide another 800 jobs once the centre is up and running.
SkyCity says the centre will generate around $90 million a year in economic activity by attracting high-spending conference delegates – the economic equivalent of having a Rugby World Cup every two years.
Mr Brown first affirmed his support for the convention centre last year.
Shed 10 cruise ship terminal – setting an example for business investment
Mr Brown said the council also backed the building of cruise ship terminal on Auckland’s Queen’s Wharf, which will open in about three months, after cruise ship numbers had risen from 62 to 105 over the last two years.
“Every time cruise ships drop into our port they drop 2500 to 3000 people in the middle of our town who spend an average of $700 each every time they are here."
Auckland Council had earmarked just under $12 million in the Long Term Council Plan 2012-2022 to build the terminal at the Shed 10 site.
“We could not encourage the private sector to get in on the investment, we needed to get in there and get it done, we will leverage that opportunity for the private sector in due course, and do what we can to get it back in private sector hands.
“In the meantime, what’s critical for our economic development and second for the tourism industry is to get that terminal done.”
Although he hoped the council would not have to step on similar projects too often, the council had to find a way when there was market failure.
“For $12 million to $13 million dollars, given what the demand was from the market and then the economic benefits to our wider community, it’s not a bad investment at this position,” Mr Brown said.
“We are always going to try and set the platform in a zoning sense, in a business sense, in a planning sense and in an infrastructure sense for the business community to seriously invest in our city and build it.”
Work to build the terminal recommenced last week under a new contractor after Mainzeal Property and Construction was placed in receivership on February 6.
The terminal was due for completion on April 17.
Waterfront Auckland chief executive John Dalzell, said completion is likely to have been set back by up to two months by the changeover to new contractor Macrennie Construction.