The venue will still host live music and entertainment, though on Sundays it will be “the house of God”.
Hillsong Church – a megachurch known for its lively worship and use of rock music – has purchased iconic Melbourne concert and sporting venue Festival Hall for $23 million, as reported by The Age.
The venue, which has sat at the heart of Melbourne’s live music scene for more than 60 years, has played host to blockbuster acts from The Beatles, Johnny Cash and Frank Sinatra, to Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Oasis and Powderfinger over the years.
More recently, it’s hosted London Grammar, Foals, 5 Seconds of Summer, Steel Panther, Queens of the Stone Age, Boy & Bear, Tame Impala, and Flume, among many, many others.
Chances are, if you’re a live music fan in Melbourne — you’ve been to Festival Hall.
In a video posted on the Hillsong YouTube channel on Sunday, church founder Brian Houston says they have purchased the venue under a new entity set up for it to use Festival Hall as its Melbourne Base, titled Community Venues Pty Ltd.
Houston also revealed in the video that there will be a complete renovation of the building and Hillsong will be the main tenant, with services taking place every Sunday once the venue opens.
The video also featured state pastors Tim and Nicola Douglass, who revealed the iconic venue will continue to host live entertainment events.
“It has served the people of this city in different events over the years, and it’s going to continue to do that. We just get to be the church who purchases it,” Tim Douglass commented.
You can watch the announcement below. Houston talks about the purchase at around the 27-minute mark.
Festival Hall construction was completed in 1915 (following two years under a boxing promoter) and has served as a boxing, pro wrestling, and dancing venue for years. Following a fire in 1955, the venue was rebuilt to host a number of events as part of the 1956 Olympic Games.
Since that time, the 5,000 capacity venue has hosted a number of iconic gigs as mentioned above, alongside been used as a host to conferences, exhibitions and other large scale indoor events.
In 2018, the site was event granted permanent heritage protection, protecting it from demolition and development plans including the building of apartments on the site.
The sale will likely draw a difference in opinion from both the music industry and punters alike.
Never miss a story. Sign up to Beat’s newsletter and you’ll be served fresh music, arts, food and culture stories three times a week.