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'World-class' conference centre planned near Madejski stadium say RFC owners

Football club owners plan to capitalise on Crossrail by luring conference business away from London venues

Pictured: An impression of the Royal Elm Park development

A huge conference centre is being planned by the owners of Reading Football Club as they bid to capitalise on the arrival of Crossrail in 2019.

They believe that the arrival of the new line will allow the Berkshire town to compete with London venues such as ExCeL and Olympia for conference and exhibition business.

The 6,000-capacity centre, The International, is set to be built on land next to the Madejski Stadium.

Praphant Asava-aree, director of RFC Prop Co, a subsidiary of the football club, said: “If you are looking for somewhere that will host more than 5,000 people in one room, there is really nothing there at the moment. 

“A lot of the big international companies that want to do business in the UK look to locate in this area because it is so easy to get to Heathrow. If you want to get from Heathrow to central London you will be lucky if it takes an hour, and it can take much longer. So we believe Reading will be a very good alternative to London for people holding conference events or exhibitions. If you look at London now, Earls Court has gone, ExCeL is very expensive.” 

The conference centre is set to be at the heart of the £200 million Royal Elm Park development, which would include 600 new homes, a hotel, restaurants, an ice rink and a park. A planning application has been submitted to Reading Borough Council, with a decision expected as early as next month. If it gets the green light, the convention centre is set to open in 2018.

Nigel Howe, chief executive of Reading Football Club, said: “Royal Elm Park is a unique opportunity for Reading to deliver a world-class convention centre that will put the town on the map and enable us to compete on a world stage. 

“It will also benefit the football club and will be important for Reading’s future growth, attracting national and international investment and offering tangible benefits for local people with new homes, jobs and an improved match-day experience.”

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