Viacom leads Oz theme park push

Project budgeted at $217 mil

MELBOURNE — Plans for a Viacom-led consortium to build a Paramount theme park, film and TV studio and entertain-ment complex in Melbourne’s rejuvenated Docklands are gaining momentum.

A timetable for the project, estimated to cost $A350 million ($217 million) has been agreed upon with the Docklands Authority. Construction will start next May with completion scheduled for the third quarter of 2001.

Tagged Entertainment City, the complex will include Paramount’s first theme park outside North America, four sound stages, a 20-screen cinema and other family entertainment facilities.

The Entertainment City Consortium comprises Viacom, Bruce Gordon’s WIN Corp., Thorney Investments, Macquarie Bank and Davies Corp.

An underwriting team comprising BT Alex Brown and J. B. Were & Son will raise equity for the project.

Paul Hameister, managing director (Australasia) for the Viacom Themed Entertainment Group, told Daily Variety the consortium has met all but two of the pre-development conditions set by the Docklands Authority.

The last two are approval of the master plan — which is due to be finished in November — and raising the money for the project by next April, which is assured by the underwriters.

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