A couple of months ago, I argued in favour of The Edge/Aotea Centre as the best home for the new international convention centre.

One of the points in its favour was that it matched the Ministry of Economic Development and Auckland City's feasibility study conclusion that "proximity to a critical mass of appropriate standard hotel rooms is the single most important attribute for conference buyers because of the convenience this provides conference organisers and delegates".

ASB Showgrounds in Greenlane, another of the five contenders for the Government-led contract, later sat me down and politely pointed out the error of my conclusions. As they saw it anyway.

Their argument was that distance was an illusion, and with a fleet of shuttle buses operating after the morning rush-hour traffic had disappeared, delegates could be wafted back and forth from downtown hotels in the blink of an eye.

Whether the promise of a speedy shuttle service, combined with a site looking out on lambs gambolling in adjacent Cornwall Park is enough to persuade the experts from the ministry, we should know in a month or so when their preliminary report is released.

My support for The Edge site was, as I admitted earlier, driven by the proposal within it to trade making the existing ASB Theatre the main auditorium for the convention centre in return for the restoration of the neighbouring historic St James Theatre into a 1300-seat venue, ideal for opera, ballet and drama.

This win-win scenario surfaced again in Saturday's Weekend Herald. The St James' property developer owner, Paul Doole, indicating the property could be for sale and the government valuation was about $11 million.

He said he would think of selling "because I think having the building done up will enhance future development on the site". In his eyes, that was a "win-win" situation too. Indeed, it would be a win on many levels. A win, as far as the convention centre project was concerned.

A win for Mr Doole, who is saddled with a rapidly decaying, but much loved, theatre with top-level heritage protection listings from both Auckland City and the Historic Places Trust, slap bang in the middle of his Queen St development site.

It's also a win for Auckland theatregoers, finally providing a long-needed venue for "unplugged" song, dance and drama.

And while the ASB Theatre would become the auditorium for the convention centre, it would also be available for large performing arts productions that don't want to use the adjacent Civic Theatre.

The ASB Theatre has been such an acoustic disaster that I don't imagine any tears will be shed at its demotion from its role as the city's main - or more accurately and shamefully - only, commercially sized lyric theatre.

Building a substitute from new seems an unlikely pipe dream, which makes the transmogrification of the St James such a vital project.

And linking it into the Government-led drive to build a national convention centre means it will escape the paralysis that may well beset the Super City as politicians and bureaucrats struggle to set up their new email passwords and fight for the best office space, car parks and the like.

On Saturday, Herald property editor Anne Gibson weighed up the pros and cons of the five bids for the convention facility that the Government says New Zealand needs to capture our share of the 15,000 business conferences held annually around the world. Currently we get just 38 of them. Such a facility could bring in 22,000 extra overseas visitors and $80 million.

The Government is so keen on this facility that it's prepared to pay a significant, though as yet unspecified, proportion of its cost. There is talk of 50 per cent to 75 per cent funding. More details of this are expected in September when the shortlist, or outright winner, of the bidding process is announced.

However, by offering the ASB Theatre and adjacent Aotea complex as part-payment in kind, Auckland will be in a good bargaining position vis a vis the complementary redevelopment across Queen St at the St James.

Short of finding a multimillionaire benefactor with very deep pockets, this could be the St James' only hope of survival. It also fits the bill as far as a national convention centre site is concerned. In a world of compromises, this is as close to perfect as we're likely to get.