SkyCity convention centre deal signed

A controversial $402 million deal has been signed between the government and SkyCity to design, build and operate an international standard convention centre in Auckland.

In a statement Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said construction will begin next year and the facility will open in 2017.

Following his statement Television New Zealand announced they had sold 93 Hobson Street building to SkyCity – just across the road in Auckland.

The convention deal has been bitterly fought with claims that SkyCity were given a special deal denied to others that could have built it.

As part of the deal, SkyCity has had its license that was due to expire in 2021 extended to 2048 and they will be allowed 230 extra pokie machiens and 40 extra gaming tables. A further 12 gaming tables that can be substituted for automated table game player stations and up to 17 per cent of pokie machines and automatic table games will be able to accept banknotes of denominations greater than $20. 

"This final agreement to build the New Zealand International Convention Centre is great news. It will create jobs, boost tourism, and bring significant economic benefits to Auckland and New Zealand," Joyce said.

He said the project would put $90 million into the economy, an estimated 1000 jobs during construction and 800 jobs once it is up and running.

SkyCity has purchased TVNZ land.

"The total area of land SkyCity now has is sufficient to build the Convention Centre", Joyce says. 

"However both SkyCity and TVNZ will continue to discuss the possibility of SkyCity purchasing a further piece of land that would provide a larger footprint. 

"We are keen for those discussions to continue as a successful purchase would allow a more iconic structure for New Zealand's International Convention Centre. The Government and SkyCity have allowed themselves a further two months to determine whether that is possible.”

The full agreement is available here

TVNZ Chief Executive, Kevin Kenrick said that their land sale deal is in the best interests of TVNZ.

"From our discussions with Sky City it was clear they were a willing buyer of TVNZ property. The TVNZ Board determined it would be a willing seller of the Charles Palmer property under certain conditions, and Sky City has agreed to those conditions,” he said.

"We were under no compulsion to strike a deal if it wasn't in the best interests of TVNZ.”

'Dodgy backroom deal' - Shearer


Opposition leader David Shearer condemned the deal saying 60 per cent of New Zealandeers opposed it.

"That’s no wonder; it’s been a dodgy backroom deal from the start," he said.

"John Key has essentially written a blank cheque for SkyCity.  It will get more pokies, more gaming tables, ticket in – ticket out systems, cashless gambling and the ability to increase playing limits.”

Shearer said the convention centre would be good for New Zealand but it was done the wrong way.

"It should be done transparently and give all companies a fair go in the tendering process."

The deal undermined New Zealand’s reputation for honesty and transparency.

"John Key is once again acting as a broker for vested interests, rather than acting in New Zealand’s interests.  It’s not how New Zealanders want their Prime Minister to behave, but sadly they are getting used to it with John Key,"Shearer said.