Funding for the new £83.7m International Convention Centre Wales (ICC Wales) at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, Gwent has been agreed.
Building of the centre, led by the main contractor John Sisk and Son, is now expected to start in March after NatWest bank confirmed a £51.5m loan to the joint venture partnership between Celtic Manor and the Welsh government.
Due to open in June 2019, the 26,000 sq m ICC Wales will be able to accommodate up to 5,000 delegates. It will also house a 1,500-seat auditorium and separate exhibition hall which will provide the largest pillar-free ballroom in Europe, with a capacity for 2,400 dinner guests.
Sir Terry Matthews, chairman of Celtic Manor Resort, described the new facility as "a real game-changer".
He said that the resort would no longer have to turn away "hundreds of millions of pounds of business" because it did not have the capacity for the largest conferences.
"This International Convention Centre will allow us to attract the biggest and most lucrative business events to Wales, as well as high-profile summits and party political conferences. ICC Wales will rival any convention facility in Europe and will act as a magnet for major events, bringing huge benefits to the Welsh economy," he said.
Ken Skates, cabinet secretary for economy and infrastructure, Welsh government, added: "This will be a major asset for Wales, enabling us to compete with any venue in the UK and indeed Europe to attract and host key events that make a huge contribution to the economy."
Located within the 2,000-acre grounds of the resort, which comprises a 333-bedroom resort hotel and 70-bedroom manor house, ICC Wales will be the latest addition to the business, which comprises three golf courses, two spas, two health clubs, tennis courts, mountain biking trails and six restaurants.
Picture (from left to right):Stephen Bowcott, chief executive, Sisk Group; Ken Skates, cabinet secretary for economy and infrastructure, Welsh Government; Terry Matthews, chairman, Celtic Manor Resort; and Stuart Allison, relationship director, NatWest