Rendering of the new International Convention Centre Sydney at Darling Harbour

A consortium led by AEG Ogden has won the management contract for a massive $1.1-billion redesign of Sydney’s iconic Darling Harbour anchored by a new convention center.

“Our current convention center is at maximum capacity, and we were losing quite a lot of business to larger, more available buildings,” explained Lyn Lewis-Smith, CEO of BESydney, the city’s convention bureau. “We were starting to feel a significant impact because we couldn’t house so many events.”

AEG Ogden teamed up with developer Lend Lease, financier Capella Capital and Spotless Facilities Services to create consortium Destination Sydney, which will manage the project currently dubbed Darling Harbour Live. The new property will include the International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney), an entertainment venue with “an innovative fan-shaped layout,” a hotel complex of up to 900 rooms and upgrades to public spaces in the area.

Slated to open in December 2016, the project will be owned by the government of New South Wales. BESydney will hand over the booking responsibilities to Destination Sydney in the early new year. A number of high profile shows like the International Bar Association meeting already slated for the new development, and the bureau has secured a further 106 events for over 432,420 visitors through 2018. Construction will begin in December 2013 and the current convention center will then be closed and soon torn down.

“I think we’re one of the only cities that’s ever demolished an existing center that’s incredibly successful and built an urban renewal precinct in its place,” said Lewis-Smith.

Geoff Donaghy, AEG Ogden’s director of Convention Centres, will be appointed as the new CEO of ICC Sydney. Total exhibition floor space on the project is 430,556 sq. ft., including a 50,000-sq.-ft. event deck overlooking the harbor and Sydney’s skyline. For concerts, the facility will boast an 8,000-seat theater and a 2,000-person grand ballroom for large banquets.

“It’s right up there as one of the biggest projects we have and certainly this is a significant project for AEG Ogden,” said company spokesperson Greg Adermann. 

Interviewed for this article: Lyn Lewis-Smith, +61 2 9332 5218; Greg Adermann, +61 7 3331 5162