SkyCity: Queenstown VIP investment not tied to centre

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Casino giant SkyCity is committed to upgrading in Queenstown whether it operates a convention centre or not  – with  locals split on the issue. 

The preferred operator got the thumbs down in a council survey with 43 per cent opposed or strongly opposed to a casino being part of a wider centre development – 25 per cent supported or strongly supported it.

“SkyCity is committed to investing in Queenstown, regardless of whether we’re involved in a convention centre,” a spokesman says.

“For example, we are currently upgrading SkyCity Queenstown’s VIP areas to improve our offering for high value visitors to the region.”

Back in February, Queenstown Lakes District Council selected a preferred consortium headed by Ngai Tahu Property and infrastructure specialists Morrison & Co to advance a 750-800 person centre – and SkyCity Entertainment Group was announced as the preferred operator of a proposed $50-million development.

The preferred site is on council-owned land Lakeview up the top of Man Street.

High-profile locals have strong views for and against a casino at a proposed convention centre site.

Listed as “Strongly opposed” in a recent council survey are Destination Queenstown boss Graham Budd and Real Journeys boss Richard Lauder – both in personal submissions – plus hotelier/restaurant co-owner Mark Rose and Jack’s Point developer John Darby.

Strong supporters include Forsyth Barr big cheese Sir Eion Edgar, Skyline’s Jeff Staniland and Real Journeys veteran Tony McQuilkin. Local Chamber of Commerce boss Ann Lockhart ticked “neutral”.

An 11th-hour bid by InterContinental Hotels Group to operate a local centre is being taken seriously. Despite missing a formal Request for Proposal, councillor John Mann says IHG’s offer is a valid option.

Queenstown councillors will meet on Tuesday at 1pm to make a decision on whether to go ahead with the $50 million convention centre in principle.