Birmingham & Black Country

NEC Group sell-off: 40 years of events, exhibitions and concerts

Beyonce appearing at Birmingham
Beyonce performed at the LG Arena during her world tour in 2013

From immaculately-coiffed pop stars to immaculately-coiffed dogs - the NEC's portfolio of concert venues, a conference centre plus a massive exhibition facility has played home to the full gamut of entertainment.

But now the owner, Birmingham City Council, wants to sell the venues as it is facing a £1.1bn bill for equal pay settlements.

In 40 years the NEC group has hosted everything from the G8 summit of world leaders to the Crufts dog show.

During that time, the centres have helped propel Birmingham into the international headlines.

In 1998 the eyes of Europe were on the NEC as it hosted the Eurovision Song Contest, famously won by Israeli singer Dana International.

Stars from David Bowie to Beyonce have performed at its two arenas - the National Indoor Arena (NIA) and the LG Arena.

And the famous National Exhibition Centre is the home of Crufts Dog Show, Clothes Show Live and the BBC Good Food Show, among many other events.

A dog at Crufts
The National Exhibition Centre is the home of the Crufts Dog Show, among other events

Every year about four million people attend more than 700 events at the group's venues.

The National Exhibition Centre was the first venue to open - planning permission was granted in 1971 and two years later the then Prime Minister, Edward Heath, unveiled a plaque to mark the start of building work.

The first seven halls were completed in 1975 and in 1976 the Queen opened the International Spring Fair at the site.

The complex now has 20 halls on a 610-acre site near junction six of the M42 motorway.

The NEC also houses the 16,000-seat LG Arena, which hosts concerts and conventions.

Known as the NEC Arena when it was completed in 1980, the first event there was a concert by Queen.

About 800,000 people attended concerts in 2012 by acts including Muse, The Killers, Jay Z, Rihanna, Elton John, George Michael, and Mumford & Sons, the venue said.

Dana International
Israeli pop singer Dana International won the 1998 Eurovision Song Contest at the NIA

In 1991, the £200m International Convention Centre (ICC), a conference centre in Centenary Square in Birmingham city centre, was officially opened by the Queen.

Building work began back in 1984 and in 1998 it hosted the G8 summit meeting of world leaders.

The ICC is also home to the 2,262-seat Symphony Hall concert venue, which is run by the Performances Birmingham Limited.

In 1991, Olympic champion sprinter Linford Christie officially opened the National Indoor Arena.

It staged the World Indoor Championships in 2003.

The NIA has also hosted Davis Cup Tennis, music gigs and WWE wrestling.

In December 2011 a £20.6m plan to revamp the NIA was announced, with work starting in June last year.

Also in 2013, work began on a £150m casino complex at the NEC.

The seven-storey Resorts World complex will boast a hotel, restaurants, cinema and shops.

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