Destination Insider: Cleveland

The International Exposition Center finished its South Hall expansion project last month, adding 185,000 sf of exhibit space contiguous to the center's existing 800,000-sf main floor. The first show to use the new venue was the Greater Cleveland Auto Show, which took place during the last week of February. It took up all of the facility's nearly 1 million sf of space to host more than 600,000 visitors over a 10-day period.

"This expansion will allow us to grow by 25 percent, which the automakers and their franchised dealers have been requesting," said Gary Adams, president of the Greater Cleveland Automobile Dealers' Association, which produces the annual event.

Meanwhile, the I-X Center will benefit from South Hall, because it allows for concurrent events as well as creates a space with a more intimate atmosphere for smaller shows.

"It'll give us the ability to run small to medium sized shows during the first and second quarters, when we're traditionally booked solid," said Eric German, vice president of marketing for the center.

"In the fall,we've already booked some shows that would normally get lost inside the I-X Center because it's so cavernous," said German. "If you're a 100,000-gross sf show, South Hall is going to feel a lot more comfortable than our main hall, which has ceiling heights of up to 80 feet."

The new space has 14 dock doors, four drive-in doors, and 24-ft ceilings. Each year, the I-X Center attracts more than 2 million visitors through a combination of consumer and trade shows.

"We're still talking to people about booking shows that we haven't been able to accommodate before," added German, including primarily consumer shows such as Johnson's LogHome & Timber Frame Show, which will use the space in November.

Merchandise Mart & City Ironing Out Issues Around Showroom
At press time, a deadline early this month for the city to reach an agreement with Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. (MMPI) to build a medical mart was extended by another week. Chicago-based MMPI, which runs trade shows and showrooms around the country, is looking to build a facility of about 500,000 sf, contingent upon the materialization of a new convention center the city is planning to build. The size of that building has yet to be determined, but it could house additional temporary exhibits during medical shows at the mart.

"What this does is put us in the unusual position of being asked to build a convention center, but as part of that, we are being guaranteed a stream of business," said Dennis Roche, president of the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Cleveland. Merchandise Mart believes the project could attract at least 50 medical trade shows a year and generate more than $300 million in annual spending.

"I see this as very significant for the community's economic future," said Roche. "It's an unbelievable project."

New Crowne Plaza Takes Off At Cleveland Hopkins Airport...
InterContinental Hotels Group has announced the opening of the 238-room Crowne Plaza Cleveland Airport.

"We are pleased to welcome our second Crowne Plaza hotel to the Cleveland market," said Gina LaBarre, vice president of brand management for Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts.

The hotel offers more than 16,000 sf of flexible meeting space in 16 meeting rooms, including two tiered amphitheaters and a ballroom that can host up to 800 guests.

...As Downtown CP Renovates
The Crowne Plaza Hotel City Centre completed $8 million in renovations to its 472 guest rooms and added complimentary wireless Internet throughout the hotel last month. The hotel, which is located in downtown Cleveland, offers groups 28,000 sf of meeting space, consisting of 20 separate function rooms and a 9,000-sf ballroom. Future upgrades to meeting areas are currently being discussed.

Other improvements include the addition of a penthouse floor with four suites, a new executive boardroom and expansions to the lobby's Green Olive Martini Bar,which now includes table seating and a light-fare menu.

Downtown Marriott Upgrade, Redux
A $2.5-million event space renovation was completed earlier this month at the Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Center. Improvements included the addition of new chandeliers, local artwork, and custom-designed carpets. The hotel features 17,000 sf of meeting space, spread over 19 meeting rooms with high-speed Internet access and full audiovisual capabilities.

"We were excited about our partnership with local designers and artists to enhance the look and feel of the renovation," said Bob Megazzini, general manager of the property.

The renovation completes a transformation of the 400-room downtown Cleveland hotel, which debuted a $10-million guest room renovation at the end of 2005.

Originally published March 24, 2008