The long awaited new Melbourne Convention Centre has opened the doors.
It would be most usual for such an occasion to be marked by a spectacular opening ceremony - and even fireworks. But no, as 2009 has been declared the Year of Austerity it was marked by a lunch. For the owners - the Victorian Government; the building consortium (The Plenary Group) and representation of the big end of Melbourne town.
Also in keeping with the YoA the room lighting was fluros - yep the work lights, no attempt to create any sort of ambiance.
The state government held a caucus meeting at the venue before the whole cabinet then joined the lunch. The Premier performed the opening noting that the venue already has 48 international and 190 national conventions, meetings and seminars booked in. In his speech the premier also quipped that the venue would be ideal for a party conference, particularly with the retractable seating, ideal for removing pesky delegates.
One observation that the premier made that I totally agree with is that the new centre has more in common with an arts centre rather than a traditional convention centre. I for one certainly look forward to seeing the a convention opening ceremony staged by the like of Peter Jones - the venue is right, the staging and technical facilities are right - now just move on from the GFC and the Year of Austerity.
The MCECs Food and wine manager Frank Burger oversaw the lunch of Red Hill goats cheese with a roasted baby pear, onion jam, brioche and micro cress, followed by char grilled certified Black Angus rump sourced from Gippsland and Yarra Valley salmon which is cured on-site by MCEC’s own chefs.
Premier John Brumby did a media stop before lunch - he talked about the green cred of the building, the events already booked in, etc. Then the hacks asked about anything else except the new centre. Maybe they were pissed off because they didn't get invited to lunch.
The foyer are is very spacious and flooded with natural light - and is very much like that of an arts centre.