Push for events centre
THE Northern Rivers needs a regional centre to cater for existing shows and attract new ones, organisers of the region's biggest events have said.
Primex director Bruce Wright is pushing for a Northern Rivers Events Centre, along the lines of centres in Tamworth, Cairns and New Zealand, to be built some- where in the region to cater for events such as his.
However, where the centre would go, how much it would cost and who would pay for it are unknown.
The annual Primex Primary Industry Exhibition at Casino draws up to 50,000 people to the region over the course of about a week, making it the region's biggest festival in terms of crowd numbers. By contrast, last week's more famous East Coast Blues and Roots Festival drew about 37,000 to its Tyagarah site over five days.
Mr Wright said major festivals on the Northern Rivers were running into a variety of prob- lems that could be eased by the construction of a dedicated events centre.
In the case of Primex it was shortage of land needed to expand at the exhibition's current home at Casino. He also alluded to the heavily publicised difficulties faced by Splendour in the Grass in getting approval for the annual concert through Byron Shire Council.
Building a venue would not necessarily be about getting existing events to move to it.
"This is more about expanding on events, festivals and shows that need and can use such a facility, while also offering the opportunity to attract new ones to the region," Mr Wright said.
"With the nature of weather and climate on the Northern Rivers, having a facility that can operate in almost any weather conditions opens the door to several more opportunities."
Those opportunities could include the chance to encourage Gold Coast-based national sports teams to set up a dual base that included the Northern Rivers Events Centre, he said.
Asked where the centre would most likely be built, Mr Wright said the region had a limited number of sites that were big enough for the centre, had main road access and were safe from floods. He listed the "triangle of Lismore, Casino, Kyogle" as an option for a site.
Ideally, Mr Wright said the centre would be funded by a public/private partnership, although the issue had not been discussed in any detail with local councils and the cost of the centre was an unknown.
Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils president and Ballina Mayor Phillip Silver said the idea was expected to be discussed by the councils, possibly as soon as the next meeting.