Auckland considers pop-up convention centre following SkyCity blaze

Auckland is considering building a pop-up convention centre to host conferences and business events following the impact of the fire that gutted the partially constructed international convention centre being built by SkyCity.

The idea was floated by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development’s (ATEED) new Destination AKL 2025 Industry Leaders Group, which is looking at a range of alternative venue options to cater to the events that were previously booked for the NZICC before the fire.

“People have been looking at the possibility of a pop-up in Auckland anyway because we’ve allocated the Viaduct Events Centre to Emirates Team New Zealand and there is pressure on the Cloud because it’s not exactly fit for purpose,” said Auckland Council chief executive Stephen Town.

With delays to the opening of NZICC a certainty events including the APAC Leaders Summit in 2021 would need to find new venues, making a pop-up centre “very close to a break-even commercial proposition”, according to Town.

“It would have a finite opening and removal date. I think if we were to reflect on the Cloud – what we like about it what we don’t like about it – we won’t do that again,” he said.

“You can often get stuck with a pop-up if you’re not very clear about why you’ve got it, what it’s being used for, and we’d be very firm that this would have to stand on its own two feet, commercially. Because if you subsidise it then the facility may well end up wanting to stay there for much longer than it should.”

It wouldn’t be the first time Auckland has constructed a pop-up event space, with the Cloud on Queen’s Wharf erected for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. However, the Cloud was severely damaged this year after recent storms, a point Councillor Linda Cooper reminded everyone.

“It’s nearly 10 years old and we’ve had to repair it in recent storms, we’ve got no plans for it but it costs us a fortune and it doesn’t get its full use,” she said.

Cooper said any temporary event structure would need to have a maintenance plan.