Gwen O'Toole

Following the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre’s (MCEC) recent announcement on its expansion, planners seeking additional venue space will have close to an additional 20,000m² of event space, including new exhibition halls to choose from.

The new space will be connected to the current MCEC, bringing its available event space to over 70,000m². While initial works on the expansion have begun, the project is expected to be completed in early 2018. The expansion is a huge win, not just for the business events sector, but for tourism as a whole.

“This expansion will help keep our hotels full, our restaurants and bars buzzing and our economy strong,” said Acting Premier, Hon. James Merlino MP.

MCEC Chief Executive, Peter King has agreed, calling the expansion more than just added space but a plan for future growth.

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Expansion Exhibition

“It’s about ensuring that we’re in the best possible position as a business to service the events industry – now and in the future,” he recently told Karryon.

“One of the key features of MCEC is the diversity of events that are conducted at the venue every day, attracting over two million visitors annually. This expansion means more events for Melbourne and most importantly, allows our customers to grow their events with us.”

“MCEC is about to complete our 4th consecutive ‘best ever’ revenue result. We continue to turn away around 20 per cent of our business opportunities due to lack of available space and our future pipeline of events is stronger than ever, despite increased competition. Put simply – we need more space,” he said.

The new space is designed to fully integrate with the existing building and will include several new features including a 450 person banquet dining room for gala dinners and the like, outdoor courtyard event spaces, more meeting rooms and retractable theatre seating in new exhibition bays that seat 1,000.

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Exhibition Bays retractable seating

“The flexibility of our new space means that we can attract new, diverse events to Melbourne. We will be the largest convention and exhibition venue in the Southern Hemisphere with just over 40,000sqm of continuous, pillar-less exhibition space,” said King. “It also means that we can provide an exciting opportunity for our existing events such as The Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal and Cisco live! to grow with us.”

Funding for the expansion comes from the 2015-16 Victorian Budget, providing $205 million for the project. It’s also part of a South Wharf development plan connecting visitors and locals with a new 341-room hotel and multi-deck car parking facility.

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MCEC expansion aerial

Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) Chief Executive Officer, Karen Bolinger said that this investment supports the ongoing ‘Team Melbourne’ partnership MCEC has with MCB and the City of Melbourne to attract business events to Victoria.
“Business Events are the highest yielding sector of the Victorian visitor economy and we applaud and support the expansion of MCEC,” Bolinger said, adding “MCB is currently working on a significant pipeline of opportunities for the next few years and this expansion will enable us to continue to deliver large-scale business events for Victoria.”

“MCB operates in a highly competitive environment, competing globally and nationally to secure business events, and this expansion supports our mission to make Victoria one of the world’s most successful conference destinations,” she said.

What do you think about Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre’s expansion?