Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre and events manager Andrew Bobeldyk. Picture: Lee Constable
Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre and events manager Andrew Bobeldyk. Picture: Lee Constable

The changes you will notice when the MECC reopens

THE Victorian border closures will further impact live music events for Mackay's major venues but local performers are already planning ways to entertain on our stages.

Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre and events manager Andrew Bobeldyk said the MECC would be available to hire from Friday while BB Print Stadium, which he also manages, will be available for hire by the end of the month.

He said it was a welcome relief after cancelling more than 5000 tickets during the coronavirus lockdown.

The latest COVID-19 regulations for reopening arts and theatre venues include only 50 per cent capacity or one person per 4sq m, whichever is greater.

"In my 33 years in this industry, it's been the most difficult thing to navigate in terms of the regulation. And I can't get a thing wrong," Mr Bobeldyk said.

"I've dealt with floods, fires, cyclones and nothing is as hard as a plague.

"Once we've gotten through that, then we finish work on the (BB Print) Stadium."

Mr Bobeldyk said Jimeoin was still booked in for November, even if it's still at 50 per cent capacity, and tickets were on sale now.

 

Jimeoin is coming to Mackay in November.
Jimeoin is coming to Mackay in November.

 

He said he believed Mackay Musical Comedy Players were planning to release a musical in October and the MECC's festival and events team would run concerts with local performers every Saturday during August.

But Mr Bobeldyk said the whole supply chain in terms of live music was broken which would prove problematic in securing live touring acts in the near future.

"A lot of musicians are based out of Melbourne and they have their own issues they are dealing with at the moment down there," he said.

"It's not always the front people; it's often the drummers, guitarists and support people based in Melbourne."

Mr Bobeldyk said there would be many changes patrons would notice, from extra bollards, hand sanitising stations to restrictions on food and drinks available from MECC menus at events.

He said customers could now only buy individual platters, instead of group plates, before events and could no longer buy bottles of wine, instead ordering by the glass.

 

Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre and events manager Andrew Bobeldyk. Picture: Luke Mortimer
Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre and events manager Andrew Bobeldyk. Picture: Luke Mortimer

 

Mr Bobeldyk said patrons would need to supply the names and contact details of everyone on a ticket booking and while social groups could sit together, they must sit 1.5m away from the next group.

He said the MECC had 11 different hire spaces but capacity would be cut, with the main auditorium slashed from 1090 people to 545 and the Space theatre from 100 to 50.

"But anything is better than nothing," he said.

Mr Bobeldyk and his team had not spent the past few months sitting idle while they had no events on the schedule.

"It has never been so clean in its life," he said.

"We have repainted walls, rerun cabling and done works that we haven't been able to do that have been on the list for seven years.

"In some cases, it's been a blessing to do all these things to make it a better experience for hirers and patrons.

"In terms of the venue's look, I think they will notice how clean and airy it feels."


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