WHAT'S NEW

There's plenty of convention center news in the region. 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 $220 million convention center, DeVos Place, in Grand Rapids, Mich., was completed earlier this year. It 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.

Attendees will find it easier to access the Midwest. Chicago's Midway Airport opened 43 new airline gates in 2004, while in Traverse City (Mich.), 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.

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.

And in Lisle, Ill., the 1,700-acre Morton Arboretum added two new attractions in September: a Maze Garden and a Children's Garden.

FACILITY UPDATE

ILLINOIS

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

  • Last August in Rosemont, a 40,000-square-foot meeting space addition opened at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, which now has 840,000 square feet of space. The addition has 22 meeting rooms, giving the center a total of 50. The conference center has a boardroom and a new ballroom that can accommodate 2,500 theater-style.

  • Benedictine University's $5.2 million sports complex, 30 miles outside of Chicago in the Village of Lisle, opened in 2004 with a 3,000-seat lighted football stadium, a 750-seat lighted baseball field, press boxes, and meeting rooms and suites.

  • In spring 2005, the 312-room Hyatt Lisle completed its meeting space expansion. The facility now has 20 meeting rooms, including two executive boardrooms, a 4,140-square-foot ballroom and a 2,100-square-foot outdoor pavilion.

  • The Village of Schaumburg has approved construction of the Schaumburg Convention Center. It will include a 100,000-square-foot exhibit hall and 20,000 square feet of meeting space. Opening is planned for 2006.



INDIANA

  • The new 243-room Conrad Hotel Indianapolis will have more than 10,000 square feet of meeting space when it opens in 2006.



MICHIGAN

  • 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.



MISSOURI

  • A 200-room Four Seasons hotel and spa is scheduled for completion in St. Louis in 2007. It will be connected to the new Pinnacle casino on the historic Laclede's Landing entertainment district via an elevated pedestrian walkway.

  • In January 2006, the 672-room St. Louis Marriott Downtown will become the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark. The $15 million renovation includes meeting space renovations. The hotel overlooks the new Cardinals ballpark — Busch Stadium — which will open in April 2006.

  • The 195-room Hilton St. Louis Downtown opened in the 112-year-old Merchants-Laclede bank building in March. The historic property features 5,000 square feet of meeting space in 75 meeting rooms. It is located six blocks from the America's Center convention complex.

  • This month in St. Louis, Residence Inn by Marriott — Downtown opens with meeting space for up to 50 people.

  • The 910-room Adam's Mark St. Louis is undergoing a $10 million renovation that includes enhancements to its 76,000 square feet of conference space.



OHIO

  • Cinergy Center in Cincinnati will complete a $160 million expansion in 2006. The 750,000-square-foot center will have nearly 200,000 square feet of exhibit space and more than 100,000 square feet of meeting space.

  • The new 139-room Cleveland Marriott East has 14,000 square feet of meeting and function space.



ASK THE CVB

ILLINOIS

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

Lisle CVB
(800) 733-9811
www.stayinlisle.com
Total Hotel Tax: 11%

Rosemont Convention Bureau
(847) 823-2100
www.rosemont.com
Total Hotel Tax: 12.5%

INDIANA

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

MICHIGAN

Detroit Metro CVB
(888) CALL-DTW
www.visitdetroit.com
Total Hotel Tax: 13%-15%

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

MINNESOTA

Greater Minneapolis CVA
(800) 445-7412
www.minneapolismeetings.com
Total Hotel Tax: 13%

St. Paul CVB
(800) 627-6101
www.visitsaintpaul.com
Total Hotel Tax: 13%

MISSOURI

St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission
(314) 421-1023; (800) 597-8409
www.explorestlouis.com
Total Hotel Tax: 14.8% (city); 13.3% to 14.5% (county)
(800) 627-6101; www.visitsaintpaul.com
Total Hotel Tax: 13%

OHIO

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

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

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 downtown 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 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. 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 (Vinnie 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 slavery. It has a space for special events as well as a performance theater. (877) 648-4838; www.freedomcenter.org