‘$120m by Christmas’ to deliver entertainment centre
The push for a regional entertainment, arts and convention centre is set to take another major step, with plans soon to be released in a bid to drum up philanthropic support.
Prominent benefactor Roy Thompson said his sights were firmly set on a 2000-seat, $150 million facility, and plans were ready to be rolled out within the next week.
He said discussions were ongoing around the final capacity of the proposed Sunshine Coast Arts, Convention, Exhibition and Entertainment Centre to be built in the new Maroochydore CBD.
Mr Thompson said he felt 1500 seats was too small and he would prefer a 2000-seat venue.
He said he "knew a few" other philanthropists in the region who would contribute funding, but noted the project needed the support of state and federal governments and the council.
"We've got a few things we've got to do," he said.
Mr Thompson said he would like to see a light or heavy rail system into the new Maroochydore CBD, to help move people to and from the future convention centre from outside the region and as far away as Brisbane.
He said it was time for the region to "wake up and grow" and he said it was time state and federal governments "gave us something" compared to funding the Gold Coast received.
Chairwoman of the Sunshine Coast Arts, Convention, Exhibition and Entertainment Association and former Maroochy Shire mayor Alison Barry-Jones said there were "fairly substantial" contributions already secured for the project from private backers.
It was understood tens of millions of dollars worth of philanthropic donations had been secured for the new centre.
Ms Barry-Jones said they were looking at a staged opportunity to develop the facility, which she said would underpin the Coast's economy.
"I'm very, very appreciative that these people are coming forward and putting their shoulder to the wheel," she said.
She said the first stage was set to be worth about $120 million, and she hoped to have that total committed before Christmas.
She said if they could get "at least $70 million" committed by the State Government this year she was confident the first stage could proceed.
She said the arts and entertainment centre should remain community-based with state and local government backing, while the convention centre and international hotel components should draw on private enterprise to fund and deliver those aspects of the project.
"This is so important for our social and cultural wellbeing," Ms Barry-Jones said.
"This (new CBD) is the designated capital (of the Coast), and that's where it has to be."
Sunshine Coast Council had recently finalised a detailed business case for a Sunshine Coast Exhibition and Convention Facility, undertaken with State Government support under the Maturing the Infrastructure Pipeline Program.
The business case was set to be used to inform detailed design and following stages of the project, once federal and state funding had been secured.
Ms Barry-Jones said it was vital the arts stayed at the forefront of the project, as she said the cultural industries were very resilient, and would help guide the region out of the pandemic.