AN £80 MILLION plan to double capacity at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) could replicate the "Finnieston effect" in Glasgow's riverside area, according to its leader.

The proposal, which has been agreed in principle by Glasgow City Council, could see a new conference centre built on the east side of the campus, reports our sister title The Herald. 

Peter Duthie, chief executive of the SEC, said the centre was currently turning away conference bookings and an expansion would allow it to attract "blockbuster" events.

The project is reliant on public funds but Mr Duthie said the expanded facility would generate significant GVA (Gross Value Added) "which in turn drives tax revenues".

"As a public infrastructure project it will pay for itself quite quickly," he said.

Glasgow Times: A new conference centre is planned at the SEC A new conference centre is planned at the SEC (Image: Frame)

He credits the opening of the Hydro on September 30, 2013 for helping regenerate the Finnieston area and said the plans could replicate this in other areas around the Clyde.

It is hoped the expansion will lead to private investors coming on board, including a hotel operator, adding to the 1500 rooms in the SEC area.

"With the success of the Hydro the question was what do we do next and the answer came from our conference sales team who said they were turning some business away that we could get if we had more space and better facilities," said Mr Duthie.

Glasgow Times: Peter Duthie, chief exec of the SEC says the £80million expansion will quickly pay for itselfPeter Duthie, chief exec of the SEC says the £80million expansion will quickly pay for itself (Image: Colin Mearns)

"Effectively we are looking at building a new conference centre with an £80m expansion at the east end of the campus.

"We are competing in a global market. Upgrading our facilities would allow us to stage two conferences of scale at the same time and attract some of these bigger blockbuster events.

"The challenge for us is that the funding needs to come from Government," added Mr Duthie, who is also a director of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce.

"We recognised the challenge on budgets.

"So we are still talking to Government to see if we can find a way to get it across the line because it just makes so much sense to do it."

Mr Duthie said the team was looking at various models and hopes the ambition to be net zero by 2030 will drive more private investment "including potentially another hotel on the site".

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He added: "The events industry is one in which Scotland and the UK are world leaders.

"We've got a reputation to build on with the success of COP26 and other events of that scale.

"It's a real economic driver and the Government still needs to invest in things which are of economic benefit.

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"We work collaboratively with universities and SMEs and Glasgow is a very collaborative place to do business. A lot of people will tell me that the SEC is their favourite place to do business.

"It is small enough that big events matter when they come into the city so they have a noticeable impact and for conference organisers that matters."

He said one of the unintended consequences of the Hydro opening was the regeneration of Finnieston into a "destination in its own right".

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"The reason it happened was that effectively the walking route from the West End to the Hydro was through Finnieston," he said.

"So as soon as you start doing that people stop off for drinks and something to eat.

"The bars and the restaurants suddenly found themselves being very busy. It wasn't a hip area but is now winning awards all over the world.

"It's busy now when there's nothing on at the Hydro. That's what we are looking to achieve with the conference side.

"There are areas across the water in the Southside for development. I think just increasing the activity and footfall will help with more hotel opportunities and more restaurants."