Auckland's conference champion says this city still has New Zealand's largest conference venues and although it is disappointed about SkyCity delays, the city can still host events for up to 2300 people.

Anna Hayward, convention bureau head at Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development was reacting to SkyCity announcing yesterday its $703m centre would now be open till the second half of next year. It was intially planned to be open this month and SkyCity is withholding $39.5m progress payments from Fletcher Construction for the holdups.

"Auckland has the largest range of conferencing facilities in New Zealand, and this is without the addition of the NZICC," Hayward said.

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The city can host events for up to 2300 people in flexible, custom-built convention facilities that can be reconfigured to any conference. But it also has many smaller spaces like homesteads in natural surroundings, Hayward said.

"The additional capacity of NZICC has meant that we are able to bid for the much larger- scale conferences that we've previously not been able to accommodate within the region's current facilities," she said.

SkyCity's delays did not necessarily tighten supply because it was 'situation normal' in the meantime, she indicated.

"When we are bidding for conferences, there is usually a long lead time, so often won't take place until years after we secure the win. This current delay from an NZICC perspective is really only going to impact those events we've already secured during that period, and as we've previously mentioned we are working with these clients to see if we can accommodate them at other venues or at a later time when the centre is open," Hayward said.

Spaces like the Aotea Centre, have more than 2100 seats available in its ASB theatre, and the Great Room at Cordis, Auckland has a functions space able to accommodate up to 1150 theatre-style. So while it's disappointing that there have been some delays with the NZICC Auckland does still have capacity available across the region at the various venues," she said.

Use of the Viaduct Events Centre had changed because Emirates Team New Zealand had already moved in there as its base for the next six years. It shifted last year and has taken over the entire building.

"The Viaduct Events Centre was utilised more as an offsite venue as opposed to a conferencing space, for when clients were looking for somewhere to host something like a banquet or peripheral event to the conference," she said.

"There are still other offsite options like Shed 10, the Spark Arena and The Cloud and venues on the central city peripheral such as ASB Showgrounds which can host larger dinners," she said.

But due to Auckland's growing popularity for attracting larger-scale conferences and events, additional large space to suit this need would be welcomed, Hayward said.

Conferences booked for SkyCity, based on information the company has released, are:

• The tripartite colorectal meeting next February, bringing 1200 delegates;
• The International Association for Prevention of Blindness convention next March for about 2000 delegates;
• The Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology is also booked for March with 3500 delegates;
• The World Veterinary Congress next April for 1200 delegates;
• The World Organisation of Family Doctors Asia Pacific Region next July, bringing 2000 delegates;
• The World Congress of the International Union of Food Science and Technology in August next year and 2000 delegates will attend that.
• International Symposium of Pediatric Pain, a three-day symposium for more than 500 delegates in 2021.

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When it is due to open after July 1 next year, SkyCity says its convention centre will be:

• 32,500sq m gross floor area;
• Five times larger than the current largest convention facilities in New Zealand;
• Capable of hosting conferences of around 3150 people and one-off events of around 4000 people;
• Configurable for up to 33 meeting space at any one time with additional pre-function spaces in the adjacent laneway;
• Transparent, open design featuring high ceilings, panoramic views and flexible, dynamic spaces;
• Building and façade designed with unique New Zealand identity;
• Offering 1327 car parks