Iconic Melbourne live venue Festival Hall has been sold to Christian megachurch Hillsong.
Hillsong confirmed the purchase of the historic venue on Sunday in a video posted to the church’s YouTube channel.
Founder of the megachurch Brian Houston said in the video that Festival Hall is set to be completely renovated, with weekly Sunday services taking place at the venue when it is reopened.
But despite the sale, Hillsong pastor Tim Douglass says that Festival hall will continue to host live events, just not on Sunday during mass.
“The cool thing about purchasing Festival Hall is it’s going to continue to be Festival Hall. I mean, it has served the people of this city in different events over the years and it’s going to continue to do that,” Douglass said in Hillsong’s video.
“We just get to be the church who purchases it and continues to serve, but also gets to see a bit of house of God on Sundays.”
Festival Hall started its life as a sporting venue, first opening as a sporting venue known as West Melbourne Stadium in 1915. The Stadium was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1955, serving as a venue in the 1956 Olympics.
Over its time the venue has played host to some of the biggest music acts to visit Australia, including The Beatles and Nirvana.
Last year, Festival Hall hosted Juice Wrld in what would become his final show before his death in December 2019.
Despite committing to live music, the sale has mean that at least person will be left without a job, the venue’s event coordinator Tanya Gleeson tweeting that she feels sad about the sale.
I have been waiting for an article to be written to comment about this. This week is my last week at Festival Hall with no future employment. I have known about the sale for quite sometime and I must admit today it feels real and sad. Thanks for the memories xxx https://t.co/zWHI5n5XZS
— Tanny (@whatsuptanny) October 25, 2020
According to Douglass, the sale of the venue has been in the works for about a year-and-a-half.
“This journey of purchasing this incredible facility started about 18 months ago, just happened to hear about that it was for sale and started enquiring, thinking it was a long shot.
“It may be a while before we’re in here filling it,” Douglass says.