Planners are welcoming the news that freshly expanded areas of Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) officially opened Sunday, increasing the facility’s total size by more than 215,000 sq. ft., including a new 97,000-square-foot multipurpose event space with a 1,000-seat theater.
The expansion also includes new exhibition halls, meeting rooms, an outdoor terrace area and banquet space. MCEC now covers more than 753,000 sq. ft., ensuring that it remains Australia’s largest convention and exhibition space. The new space is expected to annually attract an additional 74,000 international visitors, including meetings personnel, resulting in a yearly $125 million boost to the local economy.
“We’re incredibly proud of our expansion and the benefits it will bring for our customers, our city and our state,” said John Bumbry, chair of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Trust.
The expansion began in 2016 and was funded by the 2015–16 Victorian state budget. The new facility is fully connected and integrated with the existing MCEC buildings. Key spaces in the expansion were named after Victoria’s rich history and the gold exterior of the building was inspired by the state’s goldfields.
“We have delivered a world-class facility that is functional, adaptable, and aesthetically pleasing, with a quality and sophistication that reflect the attributes of Melbourne,” said MCEC Chief Executive Peter King. “Customer experience was front-of-mind when planning the design—we wanted to ensure our facilities suited the needs of our customers, rather than constraining them to fit within our space.”
MCEC’s expansion is part of a larger, $261 million, collaborative project by the Victorian Government and Plenary investment company and its private-sector partners. The Victorian Government provided $153 million for the MCEC expansion, while Plenary and its partners invested more than $112 million for the new, four-star Novotel Melbourne South Wharf and a 1,150-space, multilevel parking garage.
The 347-room hotel is housed in a 26-story gold tower and is connected to the convention facility. It includes a 24-hour fitness center and two restaurants: Mr. Carpano, which serves rustic and seasonal Italian fare, and Allora, which provides relaxed, casual dining.