The first purpose-built convention centre in Australia has been reborn with the official unveiling of its $397 million redevelopment.

There were fireworks, a ‘Welcome to Country’, a hologram of the South Australian Premier, music, entertainment, and plenty of food, drinks and cocktails to welcome the official unveiling of stage 2 of the Adelaide Convention Centre’s redevelopment in late August.

Almost 30 years to the day after it first opened, the centre was unveiled in a glittering ceremony that had the 600 plus attendees inspired.

Guests entered the new East Building via the venue’s Skyway – an elevated walkway connecting the centre’s West, Central and East Buildings. The Riverbank then came alive with a pyrotechnic, audio-visual and ‘Floating Flames’ show – a collaboration between FCT Flames, the company behind the Olympic flame since the Sydney games, Haycom Lighting, and Howard & Sons Pyrotechnics.

Following a ‘Welcome to Country’ and traditional smoking ceremony to cleanse the space by Major Sumner (Uncle Moogy) and friends, guests were treated to a sensory experience that evolved into a technological showcase, highlighting the East Building’s flexibility and innovation.

Guests then entered the venue’s new state-of-the-art Plenary Hall to the melodic sounds of the Adelaide Youth Orchestra, who were later joined by one of the city’s hottest young acts, Tkay Maidza. The collaboration was aimed at highlighting the Adelaide Convention Centre’s commitment to supporting local youth and talent.

The latest audio-visual technologies were demonstrated via wall-mapping of the plenary walls along with the use of holograms.

The building was officially declared open by South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill with additional remarks on the evening provided by the South Australian Minister for Tourism Leon Bignell, Chairman of the Adelaide Venue Management Corporation Board Bill Spurr, and centre chief executive Alec Gilbert.

The evening culminated with guests enjoying the venue’s hospitality with a series of creative South Australian-themed food and beverage stations.

The redeveloped Adelaide Convention Centre now provides 20,000 square metres of multi- purpose event space, offering sweeping views of the Riverbank precinct.

The centrepiece of the new East Building is the state-of-the-art 3000 square metre Plenary Hall. With a 3500 seat capacity, the hall can be divided into more than 15 configurations to accommodate a wide range of conferences, exhibitions, banquets and other events.

It features the world’s largest rotating seating platforms, which can be rotated 180 degrees within minutes. It also features tiered hinged seating stored in the roof, which can be lowered to convert the room into a theatre-style auditorium, along with operable walls, which can be used to subdivide the space or retracted to open up the Plenary to full capacity.

Stage Two of the redevelopment also includes an 800 square metre paved plaza fronting North Terrace, providing a striking entrance as well as an ideal space for trade or public displays.

South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill said the expansion and redevelopment of the convention centre establishes another premium Riverbank venue for events and conferences, “and also provides yet another reason for people to come and visit our great state”.

“Our investment in the expansion and renewal of the Adelaide Convention Centre is expected to bring an extra $1.92 billion into the state’s economy over the next 25 years,” he said.

“Together with other investment – such as the half-a-billion dollar Adelaide Oval redevelopment, and the almost one-billion dollars being spent on the Festival Plaza, SKYCITY Casino and Adelaide Festival Centre, our government has reinvented the Riverbank precinct into a world-class destination.”

Adelaide Convention Centre CEO, Alec Gilbert, said the opening of the East Building marks the start of a new era for the centre.

“The East Building brings together rotating drums, hinged seating and operable walls in one building for the first time, making it one of the most flexible convention centres in the world,” he said.

Already 95 conference events have been secured for the centre between now and 2020, bringing more than 71,000 delegates to Adelaide. These events will generate some 244,000 bed nights and deliver $200 million in economic benefits to the state.

The first major event to be held in the newly expanded Adelaide Convention Centre was the International Astronautical Congress from September 25 to 29. The world’s largest annual gathering of space professionals, with more than 3500 delegates attending, was the largest event of its type ever hosted in Adelaide.

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