FROM THE EDITOR: Wembley event facilities should be at heart of plans

Almost a year ago this column questioned the long-term survival of Wembley Conference and Exhibition Centre following the £48m sale of the site to developer Quintain.

Following a first phase of public consultation, the future of the 26-year-old building is now under threat. Quintain wishes to move the exhibition and events business into a new hotel or house facilities within the stadium itself. These plans remain open to public discussion and can change with the help of industry lobbying. Quintain should be proposing a much-needed European-style convention centre that will attract increased business tourism to London.

The Wembley National Stadium will attract people from all over the world to watch international sports events. But the venue's exhibition business will be secondary to its core remit of sport and hospitality and will struggle to attract shows from abroad. Shunting the events business off into a hotel, however impressive, doesn't even bear thinking about.

From 2006, Wembley and its surrounding infrastructure will be constantly in the world's spotlight. We should embrace this as an opportunity to move the UK exhibition and events business into this same pool of light.And lobbying should be driven by the two key trade associations of which Wembley is a member.

Excel was placed under the scrutiny of the industry when it hosted the annual Association of Exhibition Organisers Excellence Awards at the beginning of July. The London venue successfully showcased a part of its extended event offer and should be proud of its achievement.

Finally, a big thank-you to all the judges of this year's Event Awards, especially Reed Exhibitions UK managing director Karen Taylor who chaired the committee. A fantastic evening is planned for 26 September, where we will celebrate a diverse range of projects and innovations from an ever-developing industry.


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