Nigel Morrison. Photo by The New Zealand Herald.
SkyCity Entertainment is not backing off from its desire
to build a convention centre on its Auckland central city site,
confirming yesterday it had bought additional land.
The additional land, adjacent to its Hobson St site, cost
about $30 million and chief executive Nigel Morrison said the
company remained committed to the development of the
convention centre in Auckland.
He described the centre as a much-needed tourism development
for Auckland, and New Zealand, provided the ultimate terms of
the transaction remained "acceptable" to SkyCity.
"It is disappointing that we have not yet been able to
conclude our negotiations with the New Zealand Government
regarding the development of the New Zealand International
Convention Centre - the process most recently stalling while
the Auditor-general reviews the expression of interest
process undertaken by the Ministry of Economic Development."
SkyCity's expectation was that the report would be completed
in one month to two months, after which the company hoped to
re-engage with the Government and conclude the negotiations,
Mr Morrison said.
The additional land was bought in good faith and to
facilitate a development of the scale demanded by the
Government, he said.
The Ministry of Economic Development carried out an
expressions-of-interest process in 2010 and in June 2011, the
Government announced it was negotiating with SkyCity, whose
proposal had been deemed the best option.
The decision to pursue a deal with SkyCity led to an outcry
from anti-gambling advocates, who said an increase in pokie
machines would harm the poor and vulnerable.
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei sought an investigation
from the Auditor-general in April this year.