Convention centre a step closer

HERVEY Bay may be in line for a major multi-million dollar convention centre to service the Fraser Coast.

“We have had a working party going for four months and made up of senior council officers and business and chamber of commerce representatives,” the group’s chair, councillor Gerard O’Connell said yesterday.

“This centre is designed to be complementary to the Brolga Theatre and not to cost the council or the ratepayers any money.

“Lots of people are saying we need a convention centre to build on tourism, other local business development and also to provide a training opportunity for our university, TAFE and secondary school students.”

Member for Hinkler Paul Neville said yesterday he had committed $100,000 in the run-up to the election to fund a “pre-feasibility study” for the centre, which is initially being targeted for the Old Maryborough Road new community centre site,” he said.

“We need to make sure there’s a business plan on its financial feasibility, then where it should go and what form it should take.

“I also ask whether it could be used as a Hervey Bay Civic Centre.”

Mr O’Connell said the centre needed to be “a large iconic building to take up to 800, maybe 1000 people on a flat floor, which could have some tiering and that looked onto a stage”.

“The Brolga is terrific with a fine auditorium but it is a theatre that only seats some 240 in the foyer,” he said.

“If central management for the Brolga and the convention centre is out in place, both venues can be used for any one convention or trade show.

“We would be looking for state and federal funding.

“If you’re not aspirational in a community such as ours, and you don’t light the fire, you end up with marquees, when you might have a wonderful centre that also drives economic development across our region.”

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