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  • Gavin King

    Tropic Now editor

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    Another major delay on Cairns Convention Centre redevelopment threatens economy, Cairns Taipans and city's confidence


    Tropic Now exclusive


    Conferences have been cancelled and the Cairns Taipans NBL season is at risk of being derailed after confirmation the redevelopment of the Cairns Convention Centre has been delayed - yet again. 

    Tropic Now has confirmed the $176 million redevelopment project - first earmarked to commence construction in 2018 and later pushed back for completion in October this year - has been delayed by a further three months.

    It is believed to be the third delay to the project's completion date after funding for a business case was first included in the 2017 State Budget.

    ECONOMIC IMPACT

    The latest delay is a major blow to the city's economy, with at least two conferences scheduled to be held later this year cancelled.

    But the biggest concern is the fate of the Cairns Taipans.

    With preparations ramping up for the start of the NBL season later this year, the Taipans could be left without a venue if the State Government doesn't provide a workable solution to the Convention Centre scope of works.

    Tropic Now understands an alternative venue - such as the Cairns Basketball stadium on Aumuller St - is not suitable or viable.

    HEALY: NO COMMENT

    Member for Cairns Michael Healy did not respond to a series of questions from Tropic Now this morning.

    But a spokesperson for Minister for Public Works and Sport Mick de Brenni this afternoon confirmed the delay, telling Tropic Now the Convention Centre redevelopment would not be completed until February 2021. 

    "The Cairns Convention Centre works are getting underway, but we expect some COVID-19 delays to delivery of chillers and seating made in Europe," the spokesperson said.

    "As a result, the date of construction completion of the refurbishment works has been extended by 65 working days. Bringing the completion date to 4 February 2021, from what was originally 23 October 2020.

    "We’re working with Cairns Convention Centre Management and the Cairns Taipans on options while this important work is taking place."

    TAIPANS IN URGENT TALKS WITH STATE

    Cairns Taipans president Troy Stone told Tropic Now the club was in urgent talks with the State Government to find a solution.

    "Our absolute number one priority is to play our home games at Cairns Convention Centre," Mr Stone said.

    "We are working together with the State Government and are waiting on feedback from them to determine a way forward. 

    "But time is ticking. We need to find a solution quickly, so the NBL can move forward with scheduling the upcoming season."

    HOSPITALITY OPERATOR: "THIS IS A DISASTER"

    A hospitality operator, who works on events at the Convention Centre and asked not to be named, described the latest delay to the project as a "disaster".

    "We have lost at least one conference scheduled for November because of the new completion date and I know flights and accommodation were starting to be booked for that over the past two weeks," the operator said.

    "This event would've provided some relief for a range of suppliers after the whole coronavirus lockdown. Apparently there are a couple more conferences on top of that to be cancelled.

    "Industry has not been officially informed and this is another very disappointing cluster f**k of the Convention Centre's redevelopment timeline."

    MORE TO COME...