Posted with permission of Convene, the magazine of the Professional Convention Management Association, (c) 2015, pcmaconvene.org.
What makes Cleveland an ideal meetings and convention location?
National political conventions are the Super Bowl of the meetings industry — it just doesn’t get any bigger and better than this for a destination. In July 2016, the Republican National Convention will descend on Cleveland for the third time in the city’s history. More than $2.7 billion has been invested into reinvigorating Cleveland’s tourism infrastructure, so the convention’s 50,000-plus attendees will find a completely transformed city, one that Travel + Leisure, the Los Angeles Times, and Fodor’s all named a top travel destination for 2015. There’s no better place to welcome one of the biggest political events in the world. “Cleveland is a world-class city that has demonstrated their ability to provide our next presidential candidate with a launching pad to the White House,” said Enid Mickelsen, site-selection chairman for the Republican National Committee (RNC).
Beyond a revamped downtown that provides a modern and walkable tourism infrastructure, Cleveland offers a winning combination of experience — the city has successfully hosted a variety of major events, including the Gay Games — and warm eclecticism that immediately won over the RNC’s site-selection committee. “It’s been wonderful to get to see, really, a kind of a rebirth of Cleveland,” Mickelsen said during a selection-process interview “The kind of growth and preservation of your history, I think, gives [your city] a really unique flavor.”
Shiny New Space
Quicken Loans Arena, the primary host for the four-day convention, conveniently lies within walking distance of new downtown hotels (there are 18 properties within downtown). For example, the 484-room Westin Cleveland Downtown, which has more than 20,000 square feet of meeting space, is just a few blocks away. Two boutique properties within a five-minute walk of the arena are the 156-room Metropolitan at The 9, which neighbors the newly revamped Playhouse Square Theater District, and the 133-room Schofield Hotel, A Kimpton property opening in winter 2016.
Opening in June 2016, the 600-room Hilton Cleveland Downtown will offer 55,000 square feet of meeting space and beautiful views of Lake Erie. The property will have a direct connection to the FirstMerit Convention Center of Cleveland and the Global Center for Health Innovation, and will also be within a quick walk of Quicken Loans Arena.
Don’t underestimate Cleveland’s cool factor. This is the home of LeBron James and birthplace of the term “rock ’n’ roll,” after all. Fortunately for planners, it has never been easier to integrate Cleveland’s one-of-a-kind assets into their meetings and events. For a culturally charged setting, Cleveland’s University Circle has the country’s largest concentration of cultural-arts and educational institutions within one square mile, and a recent $350-million makeover of the Cleveland Museum of Art has created new spaces for artwork and gatherings. And what could be cooler than an event hosted by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, home to the world’s largest collection of rock ’n’ roll artifacts?
Cleveland is also home to Ohio’s first downtown casino, Horseshoe Casino Cleveland — conveniently located just a couple of blocks from Quicken Loans Arena. Other venues and diversions convenient to Cleveland’s downtown meeting spaces include The Corner Alley, a 16-lane bowling alley; live comedy at Hilarities 4th Street Theatre; and Capital Theatre, which shows first-run and independent movies.