The NEC Group has unveiled full details of its £90 million masterplan to develop the venue into one of the UK’s leading entertainment and leisure complexes.
A casino, hotel and spa plus high quality bars and restaurants are all planned under the new initiative, which could create more than 1,000 new jobs and generate millions of pounds for the West Midlands economy.
After a year-long tender process, the NEC Group has announced gaming and leisure company Genting Stanley (Solihull) as its partner for the proposed development.
Genting Stanley, which recently moved its UK headquarters to Birmingham, is the largest casino operator in the country with more than 40 outlets.
The company is owned by Malaysia-based Genting International, a publicly traded subsidiary of Genting Berhad that operates resorts and casinos around the world.
The company will operate the NEC casino – provided the scheme receives the green light from planners – and the venue is expected to be a major enticement in helping to lure tourists to the area.
However, despite the importance of the casino, the building is expected to occupy less than 10 per cent of the floor area of the new development.
The scheme represents the first phase of a grand design for the NEC site designed to deliver a range of leisure and business facilities to complement the exhibition halls and arena.
The NEC Group has long argued that the site has not been operating to its greatest potential and this scheme will go a long way towards remedying this.
Group chief executive Paul Thandi said he was delighted to have secured the partnership with Genting Stanley.
"It has always been our first priority to find the best possible partner for the NEC, for Solihull and for the wider West Midlands – a company that shares our vision of creating places where people come to discover the future," he said. "In Genting Stanley we are confident that not only have we found a partner who shares our vision; we have also found an experienced team capable of bringing that vision to life."
He also used the opportunity to stress to Solihull Borough Council the importance of the scheme.
"Our proposal represents the strongest, most deliverable most exciting and most appropriate opportunity for the local area in order that we can realise our strategy of providing a world class ‘work, rest and play’ environment at the NEC," he said.
In Peter Brooks, executive deputy chairman of Genting Stanley, he has secured a powerful ally.
Mr Brooks said: "The proposed complex will bring quality leisure and entertainment facilities to the region and create valuable new jobs in the local economy.
"We are confident of being able to bring a wealth of experience and success to this project and we look forward to the opportunity of being a worthy partner to the NEC Group and demonstrating our strengths to the local government in this exciting endeavour.’’
Birmingham City Council leader Mike Whitby has also lent his support to the project. As the council is a major shareholder in the site it has a vested interest in seeing it succeed.
He said: "The NEC site has tremendous strengths as a site for the leisure and entertainment complex. There is a natural fit with the core business of exhibition and events and the venue has a long track record of welcoming visitors."
"This is an important opportunity for Birmingham and the West Midlands in helping to ensure the NEC is able to attract even more visitors into the region and to provide a world class attraction for the citizens of Birmingham and the West Midlands too," he added.
The NEC currently generates around £2 billion to the West Midlands economy and supports 29,000 jobs.
The scheme’s announcement follows the successful passage of the new Gambling Act through the House of Lords.