WHAT'S NEW

There is plenty of convention center news. Chicago's McCormick Place West Building, expected to open in 2008, will have 470,000 square feet of exhibit space and 250,000 square feet of meeting space. Cincinnati's Cinergy Center broke ground on a $160 million expansion and renovation with completion slated for 2006; the center will have about 200,000 square feet of exhibit space and 100,000 square feet of meeting space.

DeVos Place, in Grand Rapids, Mich., will be complete in February. The $220 million convention center will have 1 million square feet of function space. In September 2004, Kalahari Convention Center, in Wisconsin Dells, Wis., unveiled an 80,000-square-foot expansion that more than doubled its size. It is connected to the nation's largest indoor waterpark and boasts 42 meeting rooms, including 10 theaters and a nearly 21,000-square-foot ballroom.

Attendees will find it easier to access the Midwest. Chicago's Midway Airport opened 43 new airline gates in 2004, while Traverse City, Mich.'s Cherry Capital Airport opened its new 100,000-square-foot terminal in October 2004. Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is in the midst of a $1.6 billion expansion, and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport is building a $250 million runway and runway extension.

Traveling to and from Indianapolis International Airport and Lansing, Mich.'s Capital City Airport is getting easier. Both have increased the number of flights to and from their cities. In Lansing, Amtrak's Blue Water Line began service to Chicago in 2004. Minneapolis/St. Paul's new light rail transit has begun full-service operation to Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. The 12-mile transit line connects downtown Minneapolis, the airport, and the Mall of America.

The St. Paul CVB has commissioned a study of opportunities for improved services and marketing to meeting planners, and to examine the need for a new convention center hotel.

  • FACILITY UPDATE

    ILLINOIS — CHICAGO

    The 483-room HOTEL ALLEGRO CHICAGO upgraded its rooms and fitness center last year. Further room renovations are planned for 2006. The hotel has 14,000 square feet of meeting space.

  • EVANSTON

    The 215-room boutique AMALFI HOTEL CHICAGO opened in Chicago's River North district in February 2004.

  • GALENA

    The 300-room SOFITEL CHICAGO-O'HARE completed a renovation last spring. The facility's 23 meeting rooms can host up to 1,000 people.

  • ROSEMONT

    The 269-room HOTEL ORRINGTON reopened in October after a $32 million renovation. The hotel's new 12,000-square-foot, IACC conference center opens this month.

  • CHICAGO SOUTHLAND

    In June, the 400-room EAGLE RIDGE RESORT & SPA opened the 10,000-square-foot Stonedrift Spa. The resort has 8,000 square feet of meeting space.

  • SUBURBAN CHICAGO

    In August, the 840,000-square-foot DONALD E. STEPHENS CONVENTION CENTER completed its 40,000-square-foot meeting space addition, including 22 meeting rooms, giving the center a total of 50. The conference center has a boardroom and a new ballroom accommodating 2,500 theater-style.

  • SPRINGFIELD

    The Radisson Hotel became the WYNDHAM O'HARE in November. The 467-room facility has 32,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space in 23 breakout rooms.

  • INDIANA — INDIANAPOLIS

    The Radisson Hotel Alsip is now the 193-room DOUBLETREE HOTEL CHICAGO/ALSIP. The hotel joined the Hilton brand last year. It includes 13 meeting rooms with more than 15,000 square feet of meeting space.

  • MICHIGAN — DETROIT

    The Village of Schaumburg has approved construction of the SCHAUMBURG CONVENTION CENTER. It will include a 100,000-square-foot exhibit hall, a 28,000-square-foot ballroom, 20,000 square feet of meeting space, and, in phase two, a 2,400-seat performing arts theater. Supporting the center will be a 500-room Marriott Renaissance hotel. Completion is planned for 2006.

  • GRAND RAPIDS

    The 269-room HOTEL ORRINGTON in Evanston reopened in October after a $32 million renovation. The facility's new 12,000-square-foot conference center opens this month.

  • MINNESOTA — MINNEAPOLIS

    The 308-room INDIAN LAKES RESORT in Bloomingdale completed the majority of its $20 million renovation, which included the redesign of its 30,000-square-foot conference center.

  • NEBRASKA — OMAHA

    The 366-room HILTON SPRINGFIELD unveiled its new 2,910-square-foot, four-room conference center in October. The hotel's total conference space is 37,777 square feet.

  • OHIO — CINCINNATI

    Construction has begun on the 243-room CONRAD HOTEL INDIANAPOLIS. It will have more than 10,000 square feet of meeting space when it opens in 2006.

  • CLEVELAND

    In June, ground was broken on the new exposition, convention, and conference center in Novi. Scheduled to open this year, the 320,000-square-foot project will feature 214,000 square feet of exposition space, a full-service banquet kitchen and 40,000 square feet of meeting and conference rooms.

  • COLUMBUS

    The 198-room HILTON GARDEN INN DETROIT opened in Detroit's Harmonie Park last spring. The hotel features 31,000 square feet of meeting space and a 24-hour business center.

  • SANDUSKY

    The 1,298-room MARRIOTT RENAISSANCE CENTER completed a $100 million renovation.

  • WISCONSIN — DELAVAN

    DEVOS PLACE convention center will be complete in February. The $220 million center has 1 million square feet of space, including 35,000 square feet of subdividable meeting space, a 162,000-square-foot exhibit hall, a gallery with 28,000 square feet of reception space, and a 40,000-square-foot ballroom.

  • FONTANA

    Last year, the 110-room, 150-condo CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN RESORT added a two-acre outdoor waterpark. This year, the resort will begin construction of a third golf course and a spa, scheduled for completion in 2006. The facility's IACC-approved meeting space is 20,000 square feet and can accommodate up to 400 people.

  • LAKE GENEVA

    The 583-room MINNEAPOLIS MARRIOTT CITY CENTER has started a two-phase renovation. The first phase, to be completed by spring, will add 2,400 square feet of reception and exhibit space. The second phase, which begins in May, will include renovation of its 15,000-square-foot Grand Portage Ballroom. The facility has 33,000 square feet of meeting space.

  • WISCONSIN DELLS

    The 450-room HILTON OMAHA opened last spring. It features more than 30,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 10,000-square-foot ballroom and 6,800 square feet of pre-function space.

  • ASK THE CVB

    ILLINOIS

    CINERGY CENTER has broken ground on a $160 million expansion. When complete in 2006, the 750,000-square-foot center will have nearly 200,000 square feet of exhibit space, more than 100,000 square feet of meeting space, and a 40,000-square-foot ballroom.

  • The 256-room SHERATON CINCINNATI NORTH HOTEL, with more than 18,000 square feet of meeting space, is planned to open mid-summer across from SHARONVILLE CONVENTION CENTER.

  • The 139-room CLEVELAND MARRIOTT EAST will be complete this summer and will feature 14,000 square feet of meeting space, boardrooms, and a 7,500-square-foot ballroom.

  • GENEVA STATE PARK RESORT AND CONFERENCE CENTER completed its lakefront resort and conference center last May. The 160,000-square-foot facility includes a 113-room lodge with a wine-tasting area. The conference center includes a 5,250-square-foot convention hall, four meeting rooms, and a business center.

  • The 415-room ADAM'S MARK is undergoing renovations and has become THE COLUMBUS, a Renaissance hotel. It features 10,000 square feet of meeting space. Completion is set for this spring.

  • INDIANA

    The 228-room COLUMBUS AIRPORT MARRIOTT, two miles from Port Columbus International Airport, opened last June after a multimillion-dollar renovation and conversion from the Radisson Airport Hotel and Conference Center. The facility has more than 14,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 7,430-square-foot conference center and 10 meeting rooms.

  • MICHIGAN

    A new 308-room KALAHARI WATERPARK RESORT & CONVENTION CENTER is scheduled for completion in late spring.

  • Located on 275 acres, LAKE LAWN RESORT is launching a major renovation this summer. The 284-room resort can host groups from six to 600 and has 31,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor conference space and 22 meeting rooms.

  • The 334-room ABBEY RESORT & FONTANA SPA is undergoing a $35 million renovation. Located on Lake Geneva, the resort has 30,000 square feet of meeting space, three restaurants, a marina, and the 33,000-square-foot Fontana Spa. Completion is scheduled for late spring.

  • In June, the 355-room GRAND GENEVA RESORT will complete a redesign of its lobby, restaurant, and lounge area. The resort has 50,000 square feet of meeting space, including 25 breakout rooms, a 7,680-square-foot ballroom, and a 13,500-square-foot convention center.

  • MINNESOTA

    The 378-room KALAHARI WATERPARK RESORT & CONVENTION CENTER completed an 80,000-square-foot convention center expansion last June. The 125,000-square-foot convention center features 42 meeting rooms, including a nearly 21,000-square-foot ballroom and exhibit hall. The resort boasts the largest indoor waterpark in the nation.

CHICAGO CONVENTION AND TOURISM BUREAU
(312) 567-8500; Fax: (312) 567-8533
www.choosechicago.com
Total Hotel Tax: 14.9%

OHIO

CHICAGO SOUTHLAND CVB
(888) 895-8233; Fax: (708) 895-8288
www.visitchicagosouthland.com
Total Hotel Tax: Averages 10% in Southland communities

LISLE CVB
(800) 733-9811; Fax: (630) 769-1006
www.stayinlisle.com
Total Hotel Tax: 11%

ROSEMONT CONVENTION BUREAU
(847) 823-2100; Fax: (847) 696-9700
www.rosemont.com
Total Hotel Tax: 12.5%

WISCONSIN

SPRINGFIELD CVB
(800) 545-7300; Fax: (217) 544-8711
www.visit-springfieldillinois.com
Total Hotel Tax: 10%

INDIANAPOLIS CVA
(317) 639-4282; Fax: (317) 639-5273
www.indy.org
Total Hotel Tax: 12%

PHANTOM PLANNER

DETROIT METRO CVB
(888) CALL-DTW; Fax: (313) 202-1808
www.visitdetroit.com
Total Hotel Tax: 13% to15%

Special Venues

GRAND RAPIDS/KENT COUNTY CVB
(800) 678-9859; Fax: (616) 459-7291
www.meetgrandrapids.org
Total Hotel Tax: 13%

Indianapolis 2005

GREATER LANSING CVB
(800) 648-6630; Fax: (517) 487-5151
www.lansing.org
Total Hotel Tax: 10% to 11%

Walker Art Center Expands

TRAVERSE CITY CVB
(800) 940-1120; Fax: (231) 947-2621
www.mytraversecity.com
Total Hotel Tax: 8%

GREATER MINNEAPOLIS CVA
(800) 445-7412; Fax: (612) 767-8001
www.minneapolis.org or
www.minneapolismeetings.com
Total Hotel Tax: 13%

ST. Paul CVB
(800) 627-6101; Fax: (651) 265-4999
www.visitsaintpaul.com
Total Hotel Tax: 13%

GREATER CINCINNATI CVB
(800) CINCY-USA; Fax: (513) 621-2156
www.cincyusa.com
Total Hotel Tax: 17%

POSITIVELY CLEVELAND
(216) 875-6600
www.positivelycleveland.com
email: cvb@positivelycleveland.com
Total Hotel Tax: 15.5%

EXPERIENCE COLUMBUS
(800) 354-COLS; Fax: (614) 221-5618
www.experiencecolumbus.com
Total Hotel Tax: 16.75%

BROOKFIELD CVB
(800) 388-1835; Fax: (262) 789-0221
www.brookfieldcvb.com
Total Hotel Tax: 13.1%

GREATER MILWAUKEE CVB
(800) 231-0903
Fax: (414) 273-5596
www.milwaukee.org
Total Hotel Tax: 14.6%

  • Meeting in Milwaukee? Consider booking rooms or venues in Brookfield, Wis., as well. Just 10 miles from Milwaukee, the smaller city atmosphere may translate to lower rates. Click the “Promos” link on the Brookfield Convention & Visitors Bureau's Web site (www.brookfieldcvb.com) for current specials.

  • When you meet in Grand Rapids, Mich., attendees can receive a complimentary copy of The Grand Rapids Press. The paper comes with a special wrap that welcomes your group and includes a discount coupon. Attendees show their badges and the coupon to receive discounts at restaurants and stores.

  • Detroit People Mover tokens, which pay for transportation around the down- town area on a three-mile elevated train, can be included in your convention package.

  • Click on “Deals & Discounts” on the Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau's Web site (www.lansing.org) for special offers at Greater Lansing's hotels, restaurants, and shopping venues.

  • Built in 1930, Carew Tower is the tallest building in Cincinnati, at 49 stories and 574 feet. Its art deco style and mixed-use “city within a city” design was mimicked by New York's Rockefeller Center several years ago. Head to the observation deck for an unobstructed view. (513) 241-3888

  • Entering its 13th year in CHICAGO, TONY N' TINA'S WEDDING is a unique way to spend an afternoon or evening. Your group will witness the marriage in the Chapel of Love, then move to the reception Hall (Vinne Black's Coliseum) for an unlimited Italian buffet, champagne toast, and wedding cake. (800) 936-4868; www.tonyntina.com

  • Looking for a teambuilding event in MINNEAPOLIS? Strap on your helmets and take a MAGICAL HISTORY TOUR. Explore the Minneapolis Riverfront on Segways. A professional guide leads you on a three-hour tour. (952) 888-9200; www.magicalhistorytour.com.

  • TRAVERSE CITY'S Victorian 1891 CITY OPERA HOUSE, a Michigan landmark, has completed an $8.5 million restoration. Its main performance space, the Connie Binsfeld Auditorium, seats 730. (231) 941-8082; www.cityoperahouse.org.

  • CINCINNATI's NATIONAL UNDERGROUND RAILROAD FREEDOM CENTER opened in August 2004. The $110 million, 158,000-square-foot facility features exhibits that tell the story of the struggle to abolish human slavery, plus a space for special events and a performance theater. (877) 648-4838; www.freedomcenter.org.

  • In SANDUSKY, Ohio, treat attendees to CASTAWAY BAY, Cedar Point Resort's newest indoor waterpark resort. The 51,000-square-foot facility has a 100,000-gallon wave pool, a water coaster, and 35-foot-tall body slides. The resort has more than 12,000 square feet of meeting space. The adjacent hotel has 237 rooms. (419) 627-2106; www.cedarpoint.com.

  • The Meeting Planners' Room at the FORD MOTOR CO. CONFERENCE & EVENT CENTER in DEARBORN, MICH., has nearly 10,000 square feet of meeting space that can accommodate 840 seated or 1,000 reception-style. A 100-seat theater has a 16 by 20-foot screen. Eleven meeting rooms hold eight to 120 guests. (313) 621-2900; www.cec.ford.com.

Throughout 2005, Indianapolis is hosting a celebration of arts and culture. From the grand opening of the new Indianapolis Museum of Art in May to the grand opening of the Indianapolis Art Center Arts Park in August, the city will host an array of events. Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association, (317) 639-4282 or www.indy.org.

The New York Times called Minneapolis' Walker Art Center “one of the best contemporary art exhibition facilities in the world.” So the expanded space — designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, who also designed the Tate Modern in London — is sure to be amazing. The expansion, to be complete in April, will include a reception area that can host 450 reception-style. A new theater will be able to seat 385 guests. Catering will be handled by chef Wolfgang Puck.