Work to create a new exhibition and conference centre for Aberdeen and the north east has begun with a ground-breaking ceremony.
Aberdeen City Council and its joint venture development partner, Henry Boot Developments Ltd, broke ground on the multi-million pound project, which will also include an innovative energy centre and three hotels on the former site of the Rowett Research Institute at Bucksburn.
The council predicts the project will bring an extra 31,000 business tourists to Scotland. It also forecasts 600 new jobs being generated during the construction period and 352 full-time-equivalent permanent positions by year 10 of operations.
Over the next 10 years, the new centre is expected to attract major artists and events to the city, and contribute an additional 4.5m visitors, £113m of visitor spend and £63m net GVA to the Scottish economy. It will provide four times the exhibition space available at the current AECC, and increase the maximum capacity to 12,500 in the arena. The facility is due to open in 2019.
Council Leader Jenny Laing said: “The new venue will ensure that Aberdeen retains events such as Offshore Europe which brings £140m to the local economy, and the significant economic benefits they bring, while securing new events for the city. It will provide a step change for the future by providing a modern and fit-for-purpose facility, which will be the most sustainable of its kind in the UK.”
Nick Harris, director at Henry Boot Developments said: “We’ve worked very hard with our design team to ensure that this new facility will be a world-class leisure and business destination, and starting work on site to turn these plans a reality is another major step forward.”
He added: “As well as being a place for the people of the North East to be entertained, this new facility will also be a key element of the business structure needed to promote Aberdeen as a World Energy City and the Energy Capital of Europe, and will provide a strong platform for sustainable economic growth for the area.”
Scottish Enterprise has contributed £10m towards development of the new centre and the organisation’s infrastructure director, Allan McQuade, described the start of construction as “a significant milestone for Aberdeen and the North East, which has faced some considerable challenges following the downturn in the oil and gas sector.
“We are pleased to support Aberdeen City Council and its development partner, Henry Boot Developments, with their significant investment which aims to put Aberdeen on the global stage for international events and bring much needed jobs and investment to the area.”
Photo, L-R: Paul Duthie (project manager of Business Infrastructure Team, Scottish Enterprise), Nick Harris (director at Henry Boot Developments), Council Leader Jenny Laing