4 Sep 2013

Private sector could have convention centre role

8:24 am on 4 September 2013

The Government is open to offers from the private sector to own and operate the yet to be built Christchurch convention centre.

Five consortiums, made up of companies able to see the project through from the turning of the first sod to its day to day operation, are in the running to complete the $280 million project.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says there's no suggestion at this stage of a Sky City type deal to help get the precinct built.

However, Mr Brownlee says there could be a role for the private sector to own and operate the facility which was previously owned and run by the Christchurch City Council.

He says convention centres are commercial enterprises first and foremost.

"There had to be a catalyst so we've stepped into that space for a time, but if someone steps up and says we'd like to buy it and to continue the development or buy the development once it's complete, then that's on the cards too.

"People have got to be sensible about convention centres. The idea that they are a community asset that we should all pay for is nice, but in the end they are places of commerce."

The consortium chosen to design, build and run the precinct will be decided at the beginning of next year and construction is due to start at the end of 2014.