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NZ Government may fund Queenstown convention centre

Property Here - Thursday, April 25, 2013

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Prime Minister John Key speaking at the Trenz conference. Photo / NZH
Prime Minister John Key speaking at the Trenz conference. Photo / NZH

The Government may contribute funding to a proposed convention centre in Queenstown, Prime Minister John Key says.

Speaking at Trenz in Auckland yesterday, Mr Key, who is also the Minister for Tourism, said government funding would not be ruled out.

He had yet to be asked for money towards the proposed facility but expected such a request to be forthcoming "from everything I hear every time I'm down there [in Queenstown]".

The proposed centre was estimated to cost about $50 million and cater for up to 1000 people.

Mr Key said although it was still in draft design and consultation stages, it could soon be approved.

"The council [Queenstown Lakes District Council] has identified land and it looks like it could be consented quite quickly. They haven't formally come to the Government for money yet, but my guess is they probably will."

The Government would not fund the bulk of the centre, and it did not need to because it looked as though there were a number of interested parties, Mr Key said.

"But I'm not ruling out putting in some cash."

He also talked about the proposed convention centres for Christchurch and Auckland as having potential to boost visitor numbers nationwide.

In February, Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden announced SkyCity Entertainment Group was the preferred operator for the proposed convention centre, and Lakeview at the top of Man St overlooking central Queenstown was the favoured site.

Parties would only invest if a viable case existed and it had community support, she said.

SkyCity Entertainment Group chief executive had previously said the company viewed Queenstown as having potential as a tourism and high-roller destination.

The project would be progressed by a consortium led by Ngai Tahu Property and Morrison and Co, which were expected to fund construction as well as own and operate the facility.

Recently, QLDC chief executive Adam Feeley announced the council was commissioning an economic impact assessment on the proposed centre, which would be included in its annual plan.