New Aberdeen Complex Goes to SMG Europe

$416-million convention center in Scotland to open in 2019

  • by Noelle Leavitt Riley
  • Published: April 19, 2017

Rendering of the Aberdeen (Scotland) Exhibition Conference Center.

SMG recently was named the management company of the Aberdeen Exhibition Conference Center in Scotland and will also oversee management of the new $416-million Aberdeen complex that is currently being built.

The existing Aberdeen convention center is 20-years old and ready for a new home. The new center is slated to open sometime in 2019.

“We’re excited to take the convention business, exhibitions and entertainment to an exciting new venue,” said SMG Executive Vice President of European Operations John Sharkey, who works out of SMG’s United Kingdom offices in Manchester.

The new venue will have more capacity, the latest technology and all the bells and whistles needed to compete in the global convention market.

The new complex will include a 12,500-seat arena equipped with a moveable stage, hospitality boxes, a club lounge, a total of 538,000 sq. ft. of flexible exhibition space, a conference center, three hotels and an energy center.

To top it off, the new exhibition and conference center will be located only six miles from Aberdeen International Airport, making it easy for conference guests to access events held at the complex.

“The insight that went into the design was amazing, which is what you want. You want a place where people like to go,” said SMG Executive Vice President Maureen Ginty. “We are very excited about it.”

Convention officials and the Aberdeen City Council have touted that the new complex is sure to have a huge economic impact on the area.

It’s projected to generate 600 new jobs during the construction period, add an additional 4.5-million visitors to the area, which includes $142 million in new visitor revenue that equates to a $78-million net impact to the Scottish economy by 2025. It’s also the “key element of Aberdeen City Council’s $1.25-billion transformational infrastructure and culture plans to grow the Granite City economy,” stated a press release.

“It’s so exciting for us to be part of a city that has made these kinds of investments and is moving it forward,” Ginty said.

The goal is not only to cater to the business class traveling to Scotland, but also the destination tourism market, Sharkey noted.

The entertainment aspect the new complex will offer is off the charts, he said.

The new convention center will host over 200 events a year, he added.

Funding for construction came from bond initiatives put forth by Aberdeen City Council.

“Thankfully, they’ve gotten to raise a lot of money in the bond market,” Sharkey said. “It’s a part of a citywide development plan.”

Included in the plan is new commercial and residential development.

“Right at the same time, there will be a new road network that will take a lot of traffic to and from the venues,” he said. “To access the current venue, you have to travel through the middle of Aberdeen where there’s a lot of transfer routes. You can probably make it much easier for people from the UK to fly into Aberdeen and do their corporate meetings and do the town hall meetings and also stay over for some entertainment.”

The new center will host meetings slated to accommodate anywhere from 50 to 50,000 people, Sharkey said.

“The venue versatility is most highlighted in the design process. We have banqueting space, we have conference space, we have entertainment space,” he added. “The whole idea of this building is to have more than one event running at one time.”

Managing the Aberdeen complex adds to SMG’s long list of venues it manages worldwide. In its 40th year of operation, SMG now manages more than 230 venues, over 15 million sq. ft. of exhibition space and more than 1.5million sports and entertainment seats globally.

  • by Noelle Leavitt Riley
  • Published: April 19, 2017