Monday, 14 December 2015

1983: Opening of the Sydney Entertainment Centre

The Sydney Entertainment Centre in 2015. Photo taken by the Author. 

Sydney Entertainment Centre Opening Supplement April 29 1983 Daily Telegraph (1)
A special cover was produced by The Daily Telegraph to mark the opening of the Sydney Entertainment Centre.
This week, we are going to say goodbye to the Sydney Entertainment Centre after 32 years of wonderful service to our city. On Friday, Cold Chisel will reunite for a special gig (performed its final concert at the venue in 1983) while its most loyal client - Elton John will be the last man standing the following night.

To celebrate the end of an era, why don't I go back to the start of the era in 1983 when it first opened.

Opening Day was May 1 1983, opened by NSW Premier Neville Wran before a capacity crowd. The opening event was an entertainment spectacular which was broadcast Australia wide on the Nine Network.

The night was compered by Bert Newton. Entertainers included Olivia Newton-John, Peter Allen & Jon English.

Sydney Entertainment Centre opens May 2 1983 Daily Telegraph 3

And how did Sydney get its entertainment centre?


Photo taken by the Author. 

In the 1970's, Sydney simply did not have a world class indoor entertainment venue. The major concerts had to be held outdoors. Our older readers might remember for instance having to watch Neil Diamond or ABBA perform at the Sydney Showgrounds. At the start of that decade, Sydney Stadium which hosted major concerts including The Beatles was demolished to make way for the Eastern Suburbs Railway Line.

In 1975, the city's fruit and vegetable markets had relocated to inner-west Flemington from Haymarket which provided an opportunity for the area to be revitalised. Other venues were proposed, including Kings Cross and the Sydney Showgrounds but the Government decided on Haymarket. Work began in 1979 and cost $41 million to build.

The Entertainment Centre had a capacity of 12 000 for concerts or 10 000 for sporting events. As a theatre venue, it could accomodate 3 500 people.

Apart from concerts, the Sydney Entertainment Centre has also functioned as a sporting venue, home to the Sydney Kings who compete in the National Basketball League. For the Olympic Games in 2000, it hosted the volleyball final.

Finally for those who love their facts - Dire Straits performed the most concerts as part of a tour (21) in 1986, while Elton John has performed 45 concerts, the most by a performer over the lifespan.

Sydney Entertainment Centre Opening Supplement April 29 1983 Daily Telegraph (8)

We will have to wait one more year before our Entertainment Centre reopens as part of the Sydney Exhibition and Convention Centre. the ICC Performance Centre will be smaller than Entertainment Centre with a capacity of 8000. The reduction in capacity is to make it more distinct from AllPhones Arena (Sydney Olympic Park) which can host in excess of 20 000 people for a concert.

Recent work on the ICC Performance Centre. Photo taken by the Author. 

Recent work at the rear of the Sydney Entertainment Centre as part of The Haymarket Development. This was the former carpark. Photo taken by the Author. 

There are proposals at the moment to build another multi-performance venue that would have the same capacity as the existing centre. One location suggested is Wentworth Park.

As for the site, this is how it will look in a few years from now. It will be a place where people will live, work and play in a new city precinct - The Haymarket.


Photo taken by the Author.