Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) today celebrates its 25th Anniversary, marking a milestone for the venue that has hosted well over 20,000 international, national and local events and welcomed millions of visitors over the last quarter century.
The Melbourne Exhibition Centre was officially opened on February 14 1996, by then Premier Jeff Kennett, and has since expanded to incorporate a Convention Centre in 2009, opened by then Premier and current Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Trust Chair John Brumby.
In 2018, a further expansion funded by the Andrews Government, saw MCEC’s total event space increase to 70,000 square metres.
Over the last 25 years, MCEC has been a major driver of economic activity and thought-leadership, having played host to major events like the 2006 Commonwealth Games and the World Aids Conference in 2014.
But more than that, MCEC has supported the community, hosting the annual Good Friday Appeal and acting as an emergency relief centre for survivors of the 2020 Bushfires.
John Brumby, Chair of Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Trust, said MCEC’s focus on contributing to Melbourne’s social and economic fabric remains a key focus after 25 years.
“In the year prior to the pandemic, MCEC contributed more than $1.1 billion in economic impact to Victoria, and even with the pandemic contributed more than $700 million last financial year.
“We have a huge role to play in Victoria’s economic growth and recovery, bringing people together and directly or indirectly generating tens of thousands of jobs every year.”
Peter King, Chief Executive of Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, said MCEC’s point of difference was its people.
“Initiating the cultural change from an operational focus to a customer focused business has enabled us to connect with our customers old and new in an increasingly more personal way.
“Our people help create so many memories from those who interact with the MCEC, and that is what is most important to us. It is a space that our community benefits from and where we can come together.
“The diversity of the events we hold is evidenced by the cavalcade of world leaders that have used our spaces – from Bill and Hillary Clinton to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carol King.
“We have hosted some groundbreaking world events including the 20thInternational AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014), Ecocity World Summit and the World Cancer Congress.
“MCEC is a world class venue with facilities customers travel across the globe to use.
“It is such a versatile space with so much heart; the employees and customers are passionate about using the space in fresh and innovative ways while still honouring 25 years of tradition.”
HISTORY OF MCEC
1996 - Melbourne Exhibition Centre officially opened on 14 February by former Premier of Victoria, Jeff Kennett AC.
2005 -Launch of Club Melbourne Ambassador Program. Designed to bring together Melbourne’s thought leaders, to contribute to Victoria's ongoing economic growth and reinforce MCEC’s international reputation through the coming together of international experts at respected international conferences.
2009 - Melbourne Convention Centre opened on 5 June by former Premier of Victoria, the Hon. John Brumby AO. Became first convention centre in the world to be awarded a 6 Star Green Star environmental rating.
2014 - New host venue of the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal. Hosted Australia’s largest health and development conference, International AIDS Conference, attracting 14,000 attendees.
2018 - The Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre expansion opened on 8 July by Acting Premier of Victoria, James Merlino. The expansion increased event space by 25 per cent.
Joined forces with 13 reputable Melbourne organisations to support the development of a wind farm, as part of the Melbourne Renewable Energy Project.
THE FUTURE OF MCEC
Recent times have seen Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) explore new ways to use their award-winning spaces. MCEC closed its doors in March due to the pandemic, but as a major contributor to the Victorian economy, the venue has been exploring new ways to contribute to the community, including the filming of a Hollywood blockbuster starring Liam Neeson, the training of Victorian Guide Dogs and Australia’s first indoor drive-in cinema.
MCEC continues to explore new uses for the venue as Melbourne moves towards a ‘new normal’. Utilising the creativity and experience of its employee base, MCEC has already installed new virtual event studios and technologies for hybrid and online events, and in the pipeline are opportunities to use the building for safe and physically-distanced entertainment and events.
This innovate approach will keep MCEC at the forefront of the industry for decades to come.
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