ALBURY Council has set the wheels in motion for a major upgrade of its entertainment centre with a favoured option under consideration to cost more than two other recent marquee projects – Murray Art Museum Albury and the Lavington Sportsground redevelopment.
The council this week agreed to investigate two options for a major refurbishment of the centre’s convention wing with the aim of tapping into the lucrative conference market with capacity to provide a venue capable of hosting up to 1000 guests.
A recent feasibility study found “significant opportunities” existed if council had a suitable venue, but both will come at a huge cost.
One option costing $16.3 million would cater for 875 guests in a cabaret style with another 125 people in a smaller function room on the first floor.
A second option at a cost of $12.9 million would deliver 720 cabaret seats on the ground floor.
The final price tag for MAMA was $11.2 million and the Lavington Sportsground redevelopment has already encountered a $3.2 million blowout on the original budget of $9.2 million with some major elements still to be completed.
Albury hosted the 2016 LambEx conference, which attracted 900 delegates, at the Lauren Jackson Sports Centre.
Albury mayor Kevin Mack said the entertainment centre needed upgrading.
“The centre has served us well, but it was built in 1964 and is becoming dated and risks falling short of the standards expected in the modern conference market,” he said.
“Council is keen to investigate whether we can develop – with government help – a state-of-the-art centre that will help us to attract conferences of up to 1000 people, providing a massive boost to the local economy.”
Albury Council has committed $5 million.
Cr Darren Cameron said he supported the upgrade, but not without financial support from other tiers of government.
“We’ve been done over on a couple of projects, notably MAMA and the Lavington expansion, by the state government which is bludging on the people of Albury.”
Member for Albury Greg Aplin dismissed criticism his government was “bludging” on the city.
“Clearly that is nonsense,” he said.
“If (Cr Cameron) applied himself more to growing the future and putting good applications in perhaps we will see them coming through quicker rather than later.”