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Rome Convention Centre opening overshadowed by earthquakes in central Italy

Futuristic £315m complex has been dogged by problems since inception more than two decades ago

Pictured: The La Nuvola convention centre finally opened its doors this weekend

The long anticipated inauguration of the La Nuvola Rome Convention Centre has been dampened by a huge earth quake in Norica central Italy. The 6.6 magnitude quake sent strong tremors in Rome and as far afield as Venice. 

The grand opening of the £315 million centre, which was designed by star architect Massimiliano Fuksas, was broadcast live on Italian state TV on Saturday night and attended by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. More than 1500 guests filled the huge central hall, dominated by a massive fabric cloud structure for a gala dinner and entertainment in the form of ballet and opera. 

The 55,000 square metre complex has been built in the historic EUR quarter and is hoped to bring in 250-350 million euros (£225-£315m) in economic benefits each year. The centre is home to a 441-room hotel known as the ‘Blade’, and features a central auditorium set inside the ‘cloud’ which can seat 1760. The lower levels have parking for more than 600 cars. 

The centre has been plagued by controversy since its inception in 1998 with many believing the cost of construction outweighed any future benefits. Critics include Mayor of Rome Virginia Reggi, who was also in attendance on Saturday evening and whose anti-establishment stance generated much heckling during the opening ceremony. 

Funding for the building was initially to come from private investors but lack of interest meant that it was eventually taken over by public body EUR Spa. 

Speaking on Saturday, head of EUR Spa Enrico Pazzali said: "The architect's wonderful vision has been realised 100 per cent." He added he was confident the centre would deliver its objective of delivering a major boost to Rome's visitor-based economy.

"Our estimates are that the economic benefits to the city and the surrounding area could be between 250-350 million euros a year," he said.

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