NZ national Convention Centre - EDITED

New Zealand’s Economic Development Minister, Steven Joyce, has announced the Government and SkyCity have signed a Heads of Agreement to build a NZD$402 million international-standard convention centre in Auckland.

The New Zealand International Convention Centre will cater for 3500 international conference delegates at any one time. It will be built for a total estimated project cost of NZD$402 million, made up of NZD$315 million in construction and fit-out costs and NZD$87 million in land costs.

Joyce was joined by SkyCity Chief Executive Nigel Morrison and Auckland Mayor Len Brown at SkyCity in Auckland for the announcement. Construction of the New Zealand International Convention Centre is expected to begin in 2014 with the facility to be open in 2017.

“An international convention centre in Auckland will be a major asset for New Zealand and will generate significant spin-off benefits including a projected $90 million annual injection into the economy; an estimated 1000 jobs during construction; and 800 jobs once it is up and running,” Joyce said.

“It’s estimated this new facility will attract around 33,000 more conference delegates each year.”

Under the agreement, SkyCity will meet the full project costs of the convention centre – estimated at $402 million – in return for the following:
-An extension of SkyCity’s Auckland casino licence, due to expire in 2021, out to 30 June 2048, and an amendment to cover all of SkyCity’s properties in Federal Street;
-An additional 230 ‘pokie’ machines on the casino floor;
-An additional 40 gaming tables;
-A further 12 gaming tables that can be substituted for automated table game player stations (but not ‘pokie’ machines);
-Up to 17 per cent of pokie machines and automatic table games (in restricted areas only) being able to accept banknotes of denominations greater than $20; and
-Introducing TITO and card-based cashless gaming technology on all pokie machines and automatic table games at Auckland casino.
SkyCity will operate the convention centre for at least 35 years.

SkyCity will have enhanced measures to deter problem gambling and money laundering including:

-A predictive modelling tool that analyses data to identify players at risk of problem gambling
-A voluntary pre-commitment system where players can elect to restrict the amount of time they play or the amount they spend
-Doubling the number of Host Responsibility specialists to deliver 24-hour, seven-days-a-week coverage.
-Introduction of player identification requirements when amounts over $500 are being put onto, or cashed from, TITO tickets in non-restricted areas.

An independent assessment by financial advisory firm KordaMentha has described the value of the concessions made to SkyCity in exchange for the construction and operation of the International Convention Centre as reasonable for both parties.

The 230 new ‘pokie’ machines is the same number granted to SkyCity under the previous Government in 2001 for the development of the existing, and much smaller, Auckland Convention Centre.

The Heads of Agreement is a legally binding document which settles the key principles on which a full agreement will be based. SkyCity and the Government are required to complete a full agreement, based on the Heads of Agreement, by 14 June 2013.

Legislation will be required to give effect to the final agreement.

The Government will have the right to approve the design of the Convention Centre, which will be designed and built to contemporary international standards.

“This agreement to build a world-class convention centre is a good deal for New Zealand that will create jobs, boost tourism, and bring significant benefits both to Auckland and to the New Zealand economy,” Joyce said.

“For years the tourism industry and business sector have been asking for an international-sized convention centre to be built in New Zealand to ensure we compete with Australia and Asia by tapping into the growing market of high-value business visitors.”