The Plenary Conventions consortium has been selected as the “preferred bidder” to bring the GCEC to life. The consortium comprises Plenary Group, which will act as a sponsor and investor in the project, Built as the builder, Woods Bagot as architect, BGIS as services contractor and Quintessential Equity as developer.
Plenary Group and Woods Bagot were both involved in the expansion of Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, which was opened in 2018 and the building of the convention centre, which opened in 2009. Woods Bagot have worked on Te Pae Christchurch, the Adelaide Convention Centre redevelopment and Dubai Exhibition Centre.
The 200-room hotel on the same site as the convention centre will be a Crowne Plaza hotel, managed by IHG Hotels and Resorts.
The new $293-plus million convention centre project on a 1.6ha site on the Geelong waterfront is expected to open in 2026 and will include a 1,000 seat plenary venue, two exhibition spaces, additional meeting rooms and flexible event space, spaces for food and beverage outlets and a public plaza.
“The City of Geelong has undergone significant growth in recent years,” said federal minister for regional development, Catherine King.
“This development will build on its reputation as a business and sporting powerhouse in regional Victoria.”
Today’s announcement will no doubt be welcome in Geelong, following news last week that Victoria would not host the Commonwealth Games in 2026, for which Geelong was planned to be one of the central hubs.
“With a waterfront precinct that rivals any in the country, this convention centre precinct will add to Geelong’s status as a UNESCO City of Design and attract even more people to come and explore all this wonderful city has to offer,” said Victoria’s minister for regional development, Harriet Shing.
The state government has contributed the lion’s share of funding to the project, investing more than $260 million, while the federal government has provided $30 million and the City of Greater Geelong has put in $3 million.
The Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Trust (MCET), which operates the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC), will also run the Geelong venue.
“We’re looking forward to leveraging MCET’s experience, capability and global networks to bring a host of exciting and important events to Geelong, and working with the community to grow the region’s well-earned reputation as a destination,” said MCEC chief executive, Natalie O’Brien AM.
“Each event we host at the centre will benefit a local ecosystem of hoteliers, event organisers, food providores, tourism operators, suppliers and so much more.”
Construction is set to begin on the Geelong site shortly and the development of both the centre and the hotel projected to be complete in early 2026.