Melbourne’s golden star
The bigger and better Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) revealed its 25% increase in event space on 8 July and, now at 70,000m2, has reclaimed its title as Australia’s largest event space.
“The MCEC won’t only be regarded as the biggest in Australia, but also the newest, plus the most unique with its approach and product offering, which is very attractive to international associations seeking the most up to date infrastructure,” said Karen Bolinger, CEO at Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB).
“The increased capacity for hosting events means we can bid for more events and larger events, more often. On the flip side, the expansion also provides the opportunity for smaller events to have their own section of the convention centre as they can completely take over the expansion site. Ultimately the increased capacity and intelligent design creates more opportunity to tailor an event specifically to our client’s needs,” she said.
The $205 million expansion added nearly 20,000m2 of flexible, multi-purpose event space, including meeting rooms, banquet rooms and the Goldfields Theatre, a 9,000m2 multi-purpose event space with a retractable 1,000 seat theatre.
Bolinger added that having a brand-new centre also means there is state of the art infrastructure, which is “really appealing to our international clients who expect the latest in technology solutions”.
Another achievement for the centre is its new interactive C2 Labs that are now available through its world-first partnership with C2 International.
The aim of each signature C2 Lab such as the Cloud, In the Dark, Pool and Barometer is to put imagination at the forefront.
For example, Sky, one of the C2 Labs, literally suspends participants six metres in the air so that the change in perspective supercharges blue sky ideas.
MCEC chief executive, Peter King said MCEC’s relationship with C2 would inspire customers by providing highly customisable and unique experiences at MCEC.
“This exclusive partnership is a differentiator in the competitive and contested market in which we compete both internationally and domestically,” King said.
The expansion is also set to add capacity and flexibility for both national and international clients, with the Victorian government reinforcing the economic impact of the MCEC.
“It is the main reason Melbourne is the national leader in staging major business events, delivering $274 million to the Victorian economy each year and accounting for around 2,250 jobs in the sector,” the government stated.
“The centre is expected to attract 74,000 international visitors every year, who will spend an average of $693 each day while in Melbourne, resulting in an annual $167 million boost to our economy.”
The MCEC expansion is part of a larger South Wharf expansion project by Plenary Group and its partners that includes a new 347-room Novotel Melbourne South Wharf and a new 1150-space multi-level car park — all fully connected and integrated with existing buildings.
Plenary Group Chairman John O’Rourke said the project would increase business and tourism activity in the precinct.
“We planned for this expansion when designing the Melbourne Convention Centre a decade ago, so it is great to be finally realising what we envisioned,” O’Rourke said.
“As long-term investors in the precinct, Plenary was perfectly placed to deliver the expansion, ensuring MCEC continued its success and that South Wharf remained a food, beverage and retail destination.”
Bolinger also added that the new Novotel South Wharf was a value add for clients.
“On-site accommodation enables conference organisers and delegates ease of access, enabling more time at the conference, or to explore Melbourne. The South Wharf precinct now has two hotels, the Novotel South Wharf which is four-star and the Pan Pacific Melbourne which is a five-star property, providing clients and delegates with more accommodation options.”
Following the opening, the MCEC hosted its first Malaria World Congress, which will be followed by more business events including the Lions Clubs International Convention in 2024, the largest cultural conference ever held in Victoria.