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., was completed earlier this year. The $220 million convention center has one million square feet of function space. Last fall, the 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 water park and has 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.



  • The 415-room Sofitel Chicago Water Tower opened June 2002. The facility, designed by French architect Jean-Paul Viguier, features nine meeting rooms totaling 10,000 square feet. The hotel sits adjacent to the Magnificent Mile.

  • 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.

  • The 269-room Hotel Orrington in Evanston reopened in October after a $32 million renovation. The hotel's new 12,000-square-foot, IACC-certified conference center opened earlier this year.

  • In June, the 400-room Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa in Galena opened the 10,000-square-foot Stonedrift Spa. The resort has 8,000 square feet of meeting space.

  • In August 2004 in Rosemont, a 40,000-square-foot meeting space addition was completed at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. The center now has the 840,000 square feet of space. The new addition has 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.

  • Also in Rosemont, the Radisson Hotel became the Wyndham O'Hare in November. The 467-room facility has 32,000 square feet of meeting space in 23 breakout rooms.

  • The Radisson Hotel Alsip is now the 193-room Doubletree Hotel Chicago/Alsip. It includes more than 15,000 square feet of meeting space.

  • 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.

  • The 308-room Indian Lakes Resort in Bloomingdale completed its $20 million renovation, including the redesign of its 30,000-square-foot conference center.

  • In Springfield, the 366-room Hilton Springfield unveiled its new 2,910-square-foot, four-room conference center in October.


  • 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.


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

  • The 198-room Hilton Garden Inn Detroit opened in Detroit's Harmonie Park last spring. The hotel has 31,000 square feet of meeting space.

  • DeVos Place convention center in Grand Rapids was completed earlier this year. It has one 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.

  • Last year in Thompsonville in Northern Michigan, the 110-room, 150-condo Crystal Mountain Resort added a two-acre outdoor water park. 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 in area and can accommodate up to 400 people.


  • The 583-room Minneapolis Marriott City Center has completed the first phase of a renovation, which added 2,400 square feet of reception and exhibit space. The second phase, which began in May, includes the renovation of its 15,000-square-foot Grand Portage Ballroom. The facility has 33,000 square feet of meeting space.


  • 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.


  • Cinergy Center has broken ground in Cincinnati 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 near Cleveland 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.

  • In Columbus, 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.

  • The 228-room Columbus Airport Marriott, located 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.

  • In Sandusky, a new 308-room Kalahari Water park Resort & Convention Center is scheduled to open at the end of May.


  • Located on 275 acres in Delavan, Lake Lawn Resort will launch a major renovation this summer. The 284-room resort can host groups of up 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 in Fontana is undergoing a $40 million renovation. Located on Lake Geneva, the resort will feature 40,000 square feet of upgraded meeting space, a complete refurbishment of guest rooms and public spaces, three renovated restaurants, a marina, and the revamped, 33,000-square-foot Fontana Spa. Completion is scheduled for late spring.

  • In June, the 355-room Grand Geneva Resort in Lake Geneva 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.

  • The 378-room Kalahari Water park Resort & Convention Center completed an 80,000-square-foot convention center expansion last June in Wisconsin Dells. The 125,000-square-foot convention center now features 42 meeting rooms, including a nearly 21,000-square-foot ballroom and exhibit hall. The resort claims to have the largest indoor water park in the nation.



Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau
(312) 567-8500
Total Hotel Tax: 14.9%

Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau
(888) 895-8233
Total Hotel Tax: averages 10%

Lisle CVB
(800) 733-9811
Total Hotel Tax: 11%

Rosemont Convention Bureau
(847) 823-2100
Total Hotel Tax: 12.5%

Springfield CVB
(800) 545-7300
Total Hotel Tax: 10%


Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association
(317) 639-4282
www.indy.org; Total Hotel Tax: 12%


Detroit Metro CVB
(888) CALL-DTW
Total Hotel Tax: 13% to 15%

Grand Rapids/Kent County CVB
(800) 678-9859
Total Hotel Tax: 13%

Greater Lansing CVB
(800) 648-6630; www.lansing.org
Total Hotel Tax: 10% to 11%

Traverse City CVB
(800) 940-1120
Total Hotel Tax: 8%


Greater Minneapolis CVA
(800) 445-7412
Total Hotel Tax: 13%

ST. Paul CVB
(800) 627-6101
Total Hotel Tax: 13%


Greater Cincinnati CVB
(800) CINCY-USA; www.cincyusa.com
Total Hotel Tax: 17%

CVB of Greater Cleveland
(800) 321-1001
Total Hotel Tax: 15.5%

Experience Columbus
(800) 354-COLS
Total Hotel Tax: 16.75%


Greater Milwaukee CVB
(800) 231-0903; www.milwaukee.org
Total Hotel Tax: 14.6%

Phantom Planner

  • Meeting in Milwaukee? Consider booking rooms or venues in Brookfield, Wis. Ten 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 CVB's Web site (www.lansing.org) for special offers at Greater Lansing's hotels, restaurants, and shopping venues.

  • Built in 1930, the 574-foot-high Carew Tower is the tallest building in Cincinnati. 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

Special Venues

  • 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 water park 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-foot-by-20-foot screen. Eleven meeting rooms hold eight to 120 guests. (313) 621-2900; www.cec.ford.com.