National Exhibition Centre

The National Exhibition Centre (NEC) is an exhibition centre located in Marston Green, England, near to Birmingham and Solihull.[1] It is near junction 6 of the M42 motorway, and is adjacent to Birmingham Airport and Birmingham International railway station. It was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1976.

National Exhibition Centre
The main entrance to the NEC (July 2015)
LocationNational Exhibition Centre
Marston Green, England[1]
Coordinates52°27′12″N 1°43′10″W / 52.45333°N 1.71944°W / 52.45333; -1.71944
OwnerThe Blackstone Group (since 2018)[2]
OperatorNEC Group
Built16 February 1973 to 1976
  • Edward Mills
  • Seymour Harris
Opened2 February 1976 (1976-02-02)
Renovated2009, 2018
Expanded1980, 1989, 1993, 1998
Classroom-style seating
Meeting-room seating
Theatre seating
15,683 (Resorts World Arena)
Enclosed space
 • Exhibit hall floor190,000 m2 (2,000,000 sq ft)
Parking16,500 spaces
Public transit accessBirmingham International railway station



The NEC was originally going to be built adjacent to the M1 motorway (junction 21) near Leicester but it was turned down by Leicestershire County Council with claims that "The big shows won't move away from London".[3] The building was designed by Edward Mills.[4]

In November 1971, the Secretary of State for the Environment granted outline planning approval for the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham.[5] On 16 February 1973, then Prime Minister Edward Heath travelled up from London to cut a white ribbon and initiate its construction.[6] The NEC was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 2 February 1976.[7]

Expansion of the complex


The seventh hall of the NEC complex, a multi-purpose indoor arena named the Birmingham International Arena (currently branded Resorts World Arena), opened in December 1980.[8]

Plaque commemorating the opening of the "second phase of development" in 1989

On 23 March 1989, Queen Elizabeth II opened three new halls.[9] Four more halls were added in 1993, and another four new halls, designed by Seymour Harris and built by John Laing, were completed in January 1998.[10]

A five-year, £40 million venue improvement programme which saw improvements made to everything from the car parking to signage, seating and catering was carried out between 2006 and 2011.[11]



The NEC has 20 interconnected halls covering 190,000 m2 (2,000,000 sq ft) of floor space.[12] Regular exhibitions in the past have included the British International Motor Show and the international dog show Crufts.[12]

The NEC has 16,500 parking spaces spread around the site, with a shuttle bus service operating to and from the car parks. In 2020 the all-day parking fee for public exhibitions was £16.00.[13]

NEC Group


Parent company the NEC Group also owns and operates the Arena Birmingham and ICC Birmingham, both in central Birmingham, and the Resorts World Arena, based on The NEC site.[14] Birmingham City Council placed the NEC Group up for sale in 2014.[15] After short-listing three contenders to purchase the company, the sale to Lloyds Development Capital, the private equity unit of Lloyds Banking Group, was completed in January 2015 for £307 million.[16] In October 2018, Blackstone acquired NEC Group from Lloyds Development Capital,[2] paying around £800 million for the group.[17]

Emergency hospital


From early April 2020 the NEC housed NHS Nightingale Hospital Birmingham, an emergency hospital scheduled to open on 10 April, and receive its first patients on 12 April,[18] as part of a network of NHS Nightingale Hospitals in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.[19] On 1 April 2021 the hospital was closed without ever treating a patient.[20]



  1. ^ a b "All About - NEC Birmingham - Birmingham Live". Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  2. ^ a b Rachel Dunachie (12 October 2018). "Blackstone acquires the NEC Group". (Press release). Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  3. ^ Brown, Graeme (16 January 2015). "Ten top facts about the NEC". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
  4. ^ "Edward Mills, innovator in concrete, dies aged 82". Architects Journal. 29 January 1998. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  5. ^ "NEC Group sell-off: 40 years of events, exhibitions and concerts". BBC. 5 March 2014. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  6. ^ "Assessing the future: your qualification, our regulation". GOV.UK. 8 December 2015. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  7. ^ "Birmingham's NEC is gearing up to celebrate 40th birthday". Birmingham Mail. 15 June 2015. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  8. ^ "NEC: From Eurovision to the G8". 5 March 2014. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  9. ^ "National Exhibition Centre celebrates 40th birthday". Birmingham Live. 15 June 2015. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  10. ^ "National Exhibition Centre". New Civil Engineer. 29 January 1998. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  11. ^ "In Thursday's Birmingham Post". Birmingham Live. 23 March 2005. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  12. ^ a b "NEC widens its window on the world". The Guardian. 19 February 2001. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  13. ^ "Car Parking".
  14. ^ Griffin, Jon (14 January 2015). "NEC Group Set to Be Sold for Price Tag Up to PS300m". Birmingham Mail. Archived from the original on 31 March 2017. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  15. ^ Morris, Steven (5 March 2014). "Birmingham city council to sell National Exhibition Centre". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  16. ^ "NEC group sold off in £307m deal". BBC News. 16 January 2015. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  17. ^ "NEC Group sold 'for £800m'". BBC News. 15 October 2018. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  18. ^ "Birmingham's Nightingale Hospital to be operational within days". Express and Star. 3 April 2020. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  19. ^ "Coronavirus: Birmingham and Manchester temporary hospitals announced". BBC News. 27 March 2020.
  20. ^ "Covid: Birmingham's Nightingale hospital closes without seeing any patients".