The NEC Group is exporting its arena expertise from the Midlands to Croatia after winning the contract to manage an iconic new entertainment and sports venue in the coastal city of Split.

Global Spectrum Europe, a newly-launched collaboration between the NEC Group and Philadelphia-based firm Global Spectrum, has been awarded the management contract for the brand new 12,000-seat Spaladium Arena which is currently under construction.

The Split contract marks the NEC Group’s first international arena management win and is part of the group’s drive to extend its reach far beyond the West Midlands by taking its experience in events to the global stage.

Last year the group announced the management team at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham had been appointed to run the new Convention Centre Dublin which is set to open in two years.

The Spaladium Arena in Split is part of the Spaladium Centar and, when it opens on December 27th, will be the largest sport resort in the area.

It will allow Split, Croatia’s biggest coastal city, to play host to the big sporting, entertainment, and business events that were previously unheard of in the city.

The 2009 World Men’s Handball Championships will be the first official sporting event for the Spaladium Arena from January 16 to February 1 2009.

NEC Group chief executive Paul Thandi said: “The early win of the Spaladium Arena underlines both our credentials and importantly our joint capability.

“The Spaladium will be an agenda-setting venue for the region of Split and indeed Croatia, our existing customers are very keen to discuss opportunities together with the existing live events market in the region.

“This is yet another groundbreaking project and opportunity for customers of The NEC Group”.

The Spaladium Arena features eight luxury suites, 500 club box seats, an additional practice facility and two club lounges.

Global Spectrum Europe will manage the Spaladium Arena for Sportski Grad TPN, a consortium consisting of two construction companies – Konstructor and Dalekovod – and civic engineering group IGH.

Sportski Grad has a contract with the local government for 30 years to manage and develop the Spaladium

Centar which will also include an office complex and parking garage as part of phase one of development.

NEC Group director of arenas Phil Mead said the collaboration between Global Spectrum and the NEC Group first came about when the two firms worked on a tender for an arena in Leeds.

“We didn’t win that tender but we learnt that our respective services have a strong attraction for the arena market and felt there were opportunities in Europe.”

“The NEC Group has already worked outside the UK with the Convention Centre in Dublin but we hadn’t done so on arena side.”

Mr Mead said the NEC Group’s ethos would be felt at the venue in Split.

“We have seconded staff from Birmingham and are bringing more people across as well as appointing locally.

“We are looking after the event content, we provided a sales manager and a senior event planner and had input in terms of setting up and operating the box office.The NEC ethos will be felt both on a product procurement basis and customer experience basis.

“The arena gives us an opportunity to work with an iconic venue which has the technical capability of hosting the shows we wanted. We are setting out to put it on the map for European touring.”

The NEC Group’s partner Global Spectrum is a subsidiary of US sports and entertainment firm Comcast-Spectacor.

Comcast-Spectacor senior vice president and Global Spectrum Europe president Mich Sauers said: “We are very excited to land our first venue with The NEC Group Birmingham.”