NEC to be sold off: Could The Birmingham Motor Show Return?

Mike Humble:

NEC / NIA & ICC are to be sold off - Could a bold private sector management bring the mush missed International Motor Show back?
NEC / NIA & ICC are to be sold off – Could a bold private sector management bring the mush missed International Motor Show back?

The former home of the International Motor show – Birmingham’s World famous National Exhibition Centre, has been put up for sale by Birmingham City Council.

The N.E.C Group that includes the huge centre itself along with the L.G Arena on the outskirts of England’s second biggest city has been placed onto the open market. It follows massive pay settlements that have been agreed with thousands of women who over many years, were paid less by the City Council than workers, mainly men, that did equivalent jobs. One law firm in particular is handling over 4000 claims alone and the City Council expect to be faced with a settlement bill in excess of £1.1 billion. The City Centre based indoor arena and conference centre (N.I.A & I.C.C) are also included in the sell off.

The massive 611 acre exhibition complex that includes a stones throw away exit from the M42, a well served main line railway station and direct access to Birmingham International Airport was of course home to the British International Motor Show from 1978 to 2004. Originally, the NEC was to be in Leicestershire close to Junction 21 of the M1, but Leicester City Council got cold feet and rejected the idea on the grounds that the N.E.C couldnt compete with London attractions – how wrong they were!

Designed by the late Edward Mills and oficially opened by H.M The Queen in 1976, the NEC quickly became one of the UK’s favoured venues from everything from trade and industry shows including the Ideal Home Exhibition, The Lancaster Classic Car Show, The International Motor Show right through to attracting all of the worlds biggest pop stars and shows in the massive L.G Arena. It still attracts all the main events and shows mainly thanks to its communications and access being second to none.

The Iron Lady meets British Steel - The Rt Hon Margaret Thatcher with the Mini Metro at the 1980 International Motor Show Birmingham
The Iron Lady meets British Steel – The Rt Hon Margaret Thatcher with the Mini Metro at the 1980 International Motor Show Birmingham

The N.E.C brings in over £2 billion in revenue for the Council and is thought to support over 29.000 local jobs. But some people are saying the sale could be a good idea for the local area, giving a new fresh management team an ability to be bolder in future plans and event ideas. One wonders if the recent surge in British motor manufacturing could see the return of the Motor Show – still sadly missed by visitors and industry folk alike despite an absence of 10 years from the Global motoring calendar.

Do you think it should return?


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