AEO Objects to Possible Demolition of London Expo Hall

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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London, UK – The Association of Event Organisers (AEO) called on the mayor of London to oppose the razing of Earls Court Exhibition Centre as part of a huge redevelopment project in the neighborhood. The fate of the building has not been sealed, but Mayor Boris Johnson recently indicated the convention center was expendable.

“The plan is economic madness,” said AEO Chief Executive Karim Halwagi. “It will potentially extinguish the events industry in Earls Court, and hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs will go with it.”

Earls Court, which was built in the 1930s, is located in an area in which a developer is eying to build 800 luxury apartments. The formal proposal will be submitted to regulators sometime in early 2012.

The project received a major boost December 19 when Capital & Counties, the development company that is both behind the project and the owner of Earls Court, announced it had struck a deal with Hong Kong’s powerful and well-heeled Kwok family for a 50% share of the project. The work would begin at the conclusion of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Mayor Johnson said recently that saving Earls Court is “not required” as part of the plan. Halwagi and the AEO disagreed, saying the building provided valuable exhibition space that could not be easily replaced.

“In the international exhibition market, London is already falling way behind rival cities such as Vienna, Barcelona, Berlin and Paris,” Halwagi said. “This decision will make matters worse.”

There are two other exhibition centers in or outside London: ExCel Center, located on London’s waterfront, offers 100,000 square meters of exhibit space (1,076,391 square feet), and the National Exhibition Centre, which offers 200,000 square meters (2,152,782 square feet)

of space in 21 halls, but is located 101 miles from London.

The AEO said Johnson never met with trade show The AEO said Johnson never met with trade show organizers to get their input and also ignored the redevelopment plan’s shortcomings, which include a lack of affordable housing and parks as well as transportation issues.

Reach Karim Halwagi at +44 (0)1442 285810 or Karim@aeo.org.uk