CLE's Convention Center Advantage

February 2, 2016

The Cleveland Advantage

The Heart of It All: FirstMerit Convention Center of Cleveland

Let's consider the facts: 225,000 square feet of exhibit space, 35 meeting rooms, and a 32,000-square-foot ballroom. When combined with nearly 5,000 nearby hotel rooms and a walkable downtown packed with dining and entertainment options, the FirstMerit Convention Center of Cleveland checks all the essential boxes for meeting planners.

An L-shaped building situated underneath the 12.5-acre green Cleveland Mall, the FirstMerit Convention Center of Cleveland offers more than 350,000 square feet of flexible exhibit and meeting space for conventions, tradeshows, meetings, conferences and special events. The combination of the convention center and the Global Center for Health Innovation creates a one million-square-foot facility that represents a $465 million public investment, the largest in Downtown Cleveland's history. The facility is managed by SMG, the nation's largest and most experienced convention center and facility management firm.

Convenience & Location 

Located in the heart of Downtown Cleveland and within walking distance of 18 hotels are 900 guest rooms adjacent to the facility. This includes the new 600-room Hilton Cleveland Downtown opening in June 2016, which will offer direct indoor access to the convention center. Within a 15 minute walking radius is a thriving entertainment scene with restaurants, nightclubs, retail, theaters, professional sports venues, and attractions.

Carrie Abernathy, CMP, CEM, CSEP, Director of Education, Training & Events at Practice Greenhealth said it best when Cleveland hosted CleanMed 2014, "Cleveland provides such a great package because there really is something for every attendee."

"The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the waterfront and the convention space are all reasons why I would bring a group here," Abernathy said. "Besides that, Cleveland has many headquartered companies downtown, and there is a lot of commerce and financial institutions. If you are looking for arts and music, Cleveland has world-class facilities in the area. If you are looking for a casino and shopping right in the heart of the city, you will find both."

Those hotspots are complemented with sports venues like Progressive FieldFirstEnergy Stadium, and Quicken Loans Arena, which are home to the Cleveland IndiansCavaliers, and Browns. And just outside of downtown, neighborhoods like University CircleOhio City and Little Italy offer everything from prestigious museums to celebrated bistros and famous craft breweries.

Getting to and from the convention center and all of the city's attractions is easy with Cleveland's Regional Transit Authority (RTA) network of free downtown trolleys. The convention center facility is also within a short walk of the RTA Tower City Rapid Station providing connectivity to CLE Hopkins Airport and the RTA HealthLine providing service to University Circle's medical district and cultural institutions. And, more than 12,000 nearby parking spaces are available with two large parking decks within one block of the Lakeside Avenue entrance for attendees who plan to drive.   

Food Service

Levy Restaurants is the exclusive caterer of the FirstMerit Convention Center of Cleveland. Attendees can enjoy a broad range of menu options from a cocktail reception in the spacious, glass-enclosed Atrium to a multi-course dinner in the expansive Grand Ballroom. Three food markets are also located on the Exhibit Hall Floor. 

Loading Docks

There are 17 loading docks, which are covered and integral to the building. Five docks are equipped with truck levelers, and trucks may be driven directly onto the exhibit floor. Exhibitors can self-unload in the designated area(s) in the loading dock using exhibitor personnel. An on-site marshaling yard can store empty trailers overnight.

Audio Visual & Technology 

Colortone Staging & Rentals (CSR) is the preferred audio/visual provider and exclusive rigging provider and offers an extensive line of audio, video, projection, lighting and staging equipment. Internet access, networking, wireless services, cable TV and phones are available on an exclusive basis. The Grand Ballroom, along with all meeting rooms, include the latest high-tech audiovisual equipment as well as a unique, individualized lighting grid controlled by the latest iPad technology.

Exhibit Halls 

The exhibit halls are on one level and cover 225,000 gross square feet.  

  • Ability to divide into three distinct halls - Exhibit Halls A, B, and C
  • 90-foot spacing between columns and a height of 30 feet
  • 17 covered truck docks and three full size, drive-in doors (one for each hall)
  • Floor ports on 30' centers capable of providing utilities and technology services
Meeting Rooms  

Thirty five (35) meeting rooms featured in the FirstMerit Convention Center of Cleveland.

  • 93,000 total sq. ft. of state-of-the-art meeting rooms
  • Wi-Fi capabilities
  • High-definition display systems
  • Multi-site video conferencing
  • Direct connection to the Global Center and its 10,975-square foot ballroom and 60-person conference space
Grand Ballroom  

From the exhibit floor level, attendees can enter the convention center's grand ballroom with spectacular views of Cleveland's lakefront from the 16-foot, floor-to-ceiling windowed North wall. 

  • 32,000-sq.-ft., column-free grand ballroom
  • Divisible into three rooms - ballrooms A, B, and C
  • Dining capacity for groups up to 1,700
Key Amenities
  • Access to outdoor event space on 12.5 acres of land
  • Concourse lobby where attendees can register for events, attend breakout sessions in meeting rooms, and access the exhibition hall floor
  • LEED Gold-certified
  • Sustainable with every touchable surface coated in durable materials
Connected Facilities
  • Global Center for Health Innovation connects via the Concourse Level
  • Cleveland Public Auditorium connects directly into the Convention Center
  • Direct connection to the Hilton Cleveland Downtown (opening in June 2016)
Thinking it's about time you #MeetinCLE?

We agree! Submit an RFP by filling out a simple online form here. Keep up with the latest Cleveland news by checking out Cleveland Meetings on Twitter and Facebook.  

For more information on the FirstMerit Convention Center of Cleveland visit and check out the following spec sheets: 

FirstMerit Convention Center of Cleveland Facility Map 

FirstMerit Convention Center of Cleveland Facility Chart 

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