Bilbao Exhibition Centre
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The Bilbao Exhibition Centre (BEC) is the headquarters of the Feria de Muestras de Bilbao. Its facilities are located on land formerly occupied by the company Altos Hornos de Vizcaya in the neighbourhood of Ansio in Barakaldo, Basque Country, Spain. These new facilities, opened in April 2004, allow for higher-capacity international fairs with better services, infrastructure, and connections.
The Bilbao Exhibition Centre covers an area of 251,055 square metres (2,702,330 sq ft), of which 246,457 square metres (2,652,840 sq ft) are distributed in six pavilions intended for exhibitions, while the rest houses a shopping mall and a hotel. In addition to the exhibition halls, the Fair has a VIP hall, a conference center, 6,500 square feet (600 m2) dedicated to office space, and a large atrium. It also has an underground car park with capacity for 4,000 vehicles.
On the roof, a photovoltaic solar energy park has been installed, and it has become one of the largest the Basque Country. The park has 628 solar photovoltaic panels and achieves an output of 100 kW in an area of 1,000 square metres (11,000 sq ft).
The BEC Tower, at 98 metres (322 ft) high, was the tallest building the Basque Country when it opened, which was higher than the BBVA Tower, at 88 metres (289 ft) in height. In 2009, the title of tallest building went to the Torre Iberdrola, which was finished in 2011 and it has a height of 165 metres.
A restaurant and the offices of the BEC company are located in the tower.
Bizkaia Arena is the largest multi-purpose hall in Spain, since it can accommodate up to 26,000 people, and 18,640 for most indoor sports. It forms part of Bilbao Exhibition Centre (BEC) complex and also part of the Bilbao and Biscay Exhibition and Conference Center since April 2004.
The venue regularly hosts basketball matches. Since 2009, it has hosted Bilbao Basket matches; in 2007 and 2008, it was also used several times for more popular matches. The arena has hosted the final stage of the 2010 King's Basketball Cup, and will be one of the sites of 2014 FIBA World Championship, hosted by Spain.
Contests and Celebrations
Several national and international fairs are held in the BEC facilities, including Ferroforma, The Biennial Machine-Tool Fair, and the Euskal Encounter. In the Bizkaia Arena, basketball games, plays, motocross races, and music concerts are held. The main political parties in the region hold campaign events and sometimes their congresses there. Similarly, several labor unions and business organizations hold a variety of meetings and conventions. The Jehovah's Witnesses have held their May and December meetings there for several years.
Alongside the construction of the BEC, the Ansio station on Line 2 of Metro Bilbao was built. The station deals with heavy passenger traffic when there is some event at the BEC, so Metro Bilbao offers special services for such events, such as delaying the closing time and stepping up frequencies. Also, opposite the main entrance of the BEC, there are two Bizkaibus stops: one for the 3142 line (connection with the underground), and line 3136; also close to that entry there is an occasional shuttle service, as well as a bus terminal, which is not in use at this time. Around the center are other Bizkaibus stops.