By Luke Voogt
A new 1000-seat function venue at Simonds Stadium will help fulfil Geelong’s need for a convention centre, according to state Tourism Minister John Eren.
The venue would accommodate large events as Geelong waited for the State Government’s business plan for a stand-alone building to host conferences, Mr Eren said.
“There no question that (the stadium room) will fill a niche,” he said.
The State Budget failed to provide funding for the proposed convention centre, labelled a priority project for the city.
Coalition MPs have slammed the funding failure and called on the Andrews government to release a business plan for the convention centre.
Mr Eren said the government was committed to building a business case for a “profitable and sustainable” facility.
“We’re doing some further consolation about making sure the business case actually stacks up.
“We only get one shot at it. It’s taxpayers’ money and we’ve got to spend it in a responsible way.”
Simonds Stadium’s venue would complement rather than compete with the proposed convention centre, Mr Eren said.
“Geelong’s now growing faster than any region in terms of population.”
“I think it’s got a different purpose.”
Regional municipal body G21 described the lack of funding in the budget and the government’s stalled business case a “major disappointment”.
“We need it to happen and I’m confident it will,” G21 chief Elaine Carbines said earlier this year.
“But the business case is long overdue and way past the deadline the government set itself.”
Ms Carbines said the stadium venue would be useful without meeting “the wider needs of a convention centre”.
“We’re renewing our efforts to lobby the government for convention centre,” she said.
“I’ve been reassured by statements from the State Government they are committed to it.”
Geelong has had a convention centre on its wish list since the 1950s.
The current plan dates back almost a decade, with supporters identifying the preferred location as a waterfront car park at Deakin University’s city campus.