With the 2014 G20 Summit under its belt, Brisbane has become an established international conference destination. Riding the wave of success is G20 host venue, the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, but a facility at a venue traditionally associated with trade shows and agriculture, is catching the eye of planners.
Opened in May 2013, the Royal International Convention Centre was converted from the 1930s Industrial Pavilion in the historic Brisbane Showgrounds – home to visiting events and festivals since 1876.
AEG Ogden invested nearly US$52m into the convention centre’s development, creating a modern heritage site that has retained the Pavilion’s original hardwood timbers and industrial heritage façade, while incorporating state-of-the-art meeting rooms. The showground says that it is the only venue in Australia offering permanent, outdoor structures that can hold up to 18,000 people.
Spread over two floors, the venue has three main halls that can accommodate between 480 and 740 guests banquet style, and a combined 2,080 when the partitions are opened. There are seven meeting rooms, some of which can be combined to host 270 for cocktails or in a theatre-style setup. The ground level offers 4,495 sqm for exhibitions, while the 1,500 sqm outdoor Plaza is ideal for fairs or al fresco cocktails for up to 1,400 people.
The 10-day Royal Queensland Show (Ekka), which has been hosted at the Brisbane Showgrounds since 1876, has become a modern-day country fair involving more than 10,000 livestock and local produce.
The August 2014 Ekka saw a fashion show inside the Royal ICC featuring top designers and models from across Australia. On the ground floor of the convention centre, booths showing the region’s produce, such as honey, flowers and pumpkins were on show while the famous Stanley county Canine Competition took place nearby in the Plaza. Now in its 138th year, the event attracted over 400,000 visitors to the Royal ICC over the ten days.
Brisbane Showgrounds is set to unveil yet more attractions, as the regeneration project moves into its fourth year. Joining Royal ICC will be the new King Street precinct, giving the city another dining and entertainment strip, and home to a 208-room Rydges hotel, 40 retail and food outlets and 408 apartments.
Brendan Christou, chief executive of the Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland (RNA) says, “The legacy building project will ensure the showgrounds become a world-class events and lifestyle destination precinct, while at the same time preserving the site’s heritage for future generations to enjoy.”
• 1.5 km from the CBD
• Within 2.5 km there is a variety of five-star hotels, including Marriott Brisbane (267 rooms), Sofitel Brisbane Central (433) and Hilton Brisbane (319)
• Currently boasts Australia’s only operable ceiling-grid system
• 10 minutes from Brisbane International Airport
• 1,500 sqm of outdoor exhibition space
• 5,535 sqm of events space in outdoor facilities