The Midwest – association meetings

The Midwest – association meetings – Statistical Data Included

K.T. Celiini

Spurred by the region’s buoyant economy, virtually no major area of the Midwest has been untouched by a development boom in the past few years. That means more options for association meeting planners than ever before when it comes to hotels, convention centers, resorts, and new attractions across the region. For instance, half a dozen cities have new or expanded convention centers. And hotel growth has been so strong that analysts are reporting softening occupancies in the Midwest for 2000 and beyond–all of which will result in better negotiating power for association meetings.




* The 200-room Park Hyatt Chicago, overlooking Water Tower Square, opened in April as a Park Hyatt flagship hotel.

* The 2,019-room Hyatt Regency Chicago debuted in April its new 10,000-square-foot Crystal Ballroom, with 19-foot windows featuring breathtaking views of Chicago.

* The Regal Knickerbocker Hotel has completed a $15 million renovation. Guest and meeting rooms have been updated, with special attention paid to retaining the historical integrity of the 1927 landmark hotel. There is 18,000 square feet of meeting space.

* A 400-room Hotel Sofitel with 15,000 square feet of meeting space is expected to open in 2002.

* The $60 million Wyndham Hotel Chicago opened in 1999 with 417 guest rooms, a business center; two ballrooms, and five meeting rooms.

* The 310-room Grand Bay Hotel, on the Magnificent Mile, will open in 2001.


Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau

Phone: (312) 567-8500; Fax: (312) 567-8533

McCormick Place

Phone: (312) 791-7000; Fax:(312) 791-6543

With a total of 2.2 million square feet of exhibit space, the complex encompasses three buildings along Lake Shore Drive. In the North and South buildings, 1.6 million square feet of meeting and exhibit space includes six exhibit halls, 63 meeting rooms from 450 to 14,000 square feet, and the Arie Crown Theater, which seats 4,319. The Lakeside Center is geared to midsize meetings, with its own 300,000-square-foot main exhibit hall, 40 meeting rooms, and the city’s largest ballroom, at 45,000 square feet. The complex is undergoing another $100 million in improvements, including the addition of a 4,000-car parking garage, the creation of a dedicated bus lane that will connect the center with downtown Chicago, and the construction of a new conference center.

Navy Pier

Phone: (312) 595-5300

Fax:(312) 595-5050

The facility offers more than 170,000 square feet of exhibit space and 48,000 square feet of meeting space.

Total Hotel Tax: 14.9%

Rosemont and Chicago Suburbs


* The 369-room Doubletree O’Hare Hotel in Rosemont opened in April.

* The 206-room l-lyatt Rosemont opened in October.

* The 450-room Omni Rosemont opens in spring 2002, connected by skybridge to the Rosemont Theater. The hotel will offer high-speed Internet access and 25,000 square feet of meeting space.

* The 128-room Hilton Garden Inn in Oakbrook Terrace opened in May 1999.

* The 384-room Oakbrook Hills Resort & Conference Center; a Dolce property, has renovated all guest rooms. It offers 35,000 square feet of meeting space and new videoconferencing equipment.

* The 160-room Drake Oak Brook, accommodating 400 for meetings, recently completed a renovation.

* The Hyatt Regency Oak Brook has 423 rooms and suites and 30,000 square feet of function space, including its 1,700-square-foot Executive Training Center.

* The 358-room Chicago Marriott Oak Brook recently completed a $1.5 million renovation of its 18,000 square feet of function space.


Chicago Southland CVB

(708) 895-8200, (888) 895-8233

Fax:(708) 895-8288 / chicago-southland-cvb

Rosemont Convention Bureau

Phone: (847) 823-2100

Fax: (847) 696-9700

Donald E. Stephens Convention Center

*(847) 692-2220

Fax:(847) 696-9700

The Rosemont Convention Center was renamed in January to honor 12-time elected Mayor Donald Stephens. The center has 700,000 square feet for exhibits and 52,000 square feet for meetings.

Total Hotel Tax: 9.75% in Rosemont



Evansville CVB unveiled its new logo and slogan in March: “Where the Midwest Meets,” after the October opening of the area’s S 35 million The Centre. The second largest convention facility in Indiana, The Centre offers 280,000 square feet of function space in downtown Evansville, a historic Ohio River community in Southwest Indiana. A 429-room Radisson Hotel is across the street from The Centre.

Evansville CVB

(812) 421-2200

(800) 433-3025

Fax:(812) 421-2207

Indianapolis area


* After an extensive renovation, the landmark Indianapolis Union Station last year reopened as the Grand Hall and Conference Center at the 276-room Crowne Plaza Hotel Union Station, with 30,000 square feet of function space.

* The new 615-room Indianapolis Marriott Downtown, to be connected to the convention center by skywalk, is scheduled to open in February 2001, With 38,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 21,000-square-foot ballroom, it will be the largest hotel in the city and give downtown a total of more than 3,000 hotel rooms within two blocks of the center.

* Adam’s Mark is converting an existing building to create a 280-suite hotel. The $25 million hotel, two blocks from the convention center, opened in June.


Indianapolis CVA

(317) 639-4282

Indiana Convention Center & RCA Dome

Fax:(317) 639-5273;

(317) 262-3410

Fax: (317) 262-3685

A 120,000-square-foot expansion will open in early 2001, boosting the center’s exhibit space to 400,000 square feet, including the 95,000 square feet in the attached RCA Dome Total meeting space will be more than 140,000 square feet.

Total Hotel Tax: 11%



Three permanent downtown casinos are on target for an opening date in 2001, with temporary facilities already open. Two side-by-side stadiums are under construction and will anchor a new downtown entertainment district, a $10 million project designed as an “avenue of fun,” with microbreweries, sports bars, coffeehouses, and themed restaurants. The $500 million renovation of the landmark Renaissance Center complex, global headquarters for General Motors, continues with the opening of GM World exhibit and the Renaissance Center Food Court. A $1 .6 billion expansion at the Detroit Wayne County Airport, which will include a new terminal, new runway, and renovation of the three existing terminals by 2001, is under way.


* The 1,328-room Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center is midway through a $100 million renovation of guest rooms and public and meeting space, which should be complete by May 2001.

* General Motors has partnered with Marriott to operate the 265-room Downtown Detroit Courtyard Marriott. Its complete renovation was finished earlier this year.


Detroit Metro CVB

(3l3) 202-1800

(800) CALL-DTW

Fax: (313) 202-1808

Cobo Conference/Exhib. Center

(313) 877-8777

Fax: (313) 877-8577

The center has 700,000 square feet of exhibit space and 85 meeting rooms.

Total Hotel Tax: 15%



* The Hyatt Regency Dearborn completed in February a $22 million renovation that included 756 guest rooms, hospitality suites, public areas, and meeting space. The hotel is nine miles from Detroit metro airport.

Greater Lansing

(517) 487-0077, (800) 648-6630

Greater Lansing CVB

Fax: (517) 487-5151

Lansing Center

(517) 483-7400

The center has 20 meeting rooms and 72,000 square feet of exhibit space.




Greater Minneapolis CVA

(612) 661-4700, (800) 445-7412

Fax: (612) 348-8359

Minneapolis Convention Center

(612) 335-6000

Fax: (612) 335-5839

The center has 280,000 square feet of exhibit space in three halls, and 54,000 square feet of meeting space in 54 meeting rooms. A three-story addition, expected to be complete by 2001, will nearly double the center’s exhibit space to 500,000 square feet and provide 145,000 square feet of meeting space, plus add a 3,400-seat auditorium. The center is connected by skyway to hotels, restaurants, and shops.

Total Hotel Tax: 12%

Saint Paul

By late 2001, convention delegates will be able to access the downtown skyway system via a climate-controlled connection from the RiverCentre. The opening in September of the National Hockey League arena, home to the state’s new expansion team, the Minnesota Wild, will complete the RiverCentre complex, which includes Touchstone Energy Place convention center and the Roy Wilkins Auditorium. Construction began this spring on an underground connection of the RiverCentre to the downtown sky-way system. Riverfront Renaissance is also near completion: Harriet Island concludes a $13 million renovation this summer, giving the riverfront area a renovated pavilion, entertainment stage, and great river walkway with direct access to the Mississippi.


* The Radisson Hotel Saint Paul, the city’s largest convention hotel, wrapped up in June the remodeling of its 475 rooms and the upgrading of its public and meeting spaces.

* A few blocks from the Radisson, the 197-room Holiday Inn RiverCentre is undergoing a major renovation, to be completed in late 2000.


Saint Paul CVB

(651) 265-4910 (800) 627-6101

Fax: (651) 265-4999


Total Hotel Tax: 12.5%



In May, voters approved $100 million in revenue bonds to help finance a new downtown convention center and 17,000-seat arena. Groundbreaking is expected in January for a facility with 195,000 square feet of exhibit space. A search is under way for an anchor hotel to be built on the 422-acre redevelopment site.


Greater Omaha CVB

(402) 444-4660, (800) 332-1819

Fax: (402) 444-4511

Omaha Civic Auditorium

(402) 444-4550; Fax: (402) 444-4739

This facility includes 122,000 square feet of function space in three areas, plus a 400-seat assembly hall.

Total Hotel Tax: 11%




Akron/Summit County CVB

(800) 245-4254 (330) 374-7560

John S. Knight Center

(800) 245-4254, (330) 374-7560

The center has an exhibition hall of 30,000 square feet, 12,000 square feet of banquet space, an additional 12,600 square feet of meeting space, and a 22,000-square-foot lobby.

Greater Cincinnati


*Marriott’s Kingsgate Conference Center opened last year with 206 guest rooms and 20,000 square feet of meeting space.

*The 619-room Omni Netherland Plaza, a National Historic Landmark, has added four boardrooms. Two of its three ballrooms were renovated in 1999. The hotel has more than 38,000 square feet of meeting space and features a 24-hour business center.

Greater Cincinnati CVB

* (5l3) 621-5577

* Fax: (513) 621-2156


Dr. Albert B. Sabin Cincinnati Convention Center

* (513) 352-3750

Fax: (513) 621-6226

The center has 161,900 square feet of contiguous main floor exhibit space that is divisible into three halls; 56,000 square feet of meeting space in 41 meeting rooms; and a 30,000-square-foot ballroom. It is linked by skywalk to five downtown hotels with 2,700 first-class hotel rooms. A feasibility study has already recommended expansion of the center; financing is now the issue, with Delta Air Lines recently contributing $30 million as an anchor investment in exchange for naming rights.


Eight new hotels, totaling 1,700 rooms, are planned for the downtown area. The city is in the final stages of planning a 350,000-square-foot convention center.


* The historic Arcade building in downtown will be redeveloped into a 294-room Hyatt Regency Hotel with 55,000 square feet of retail space. Completion is set for 2001.

* The 160-room Inter-Continental Suites hotel opened last year. Additionally, a 291-room Inter-Continental hotel and conference center with a 500-seat auditorium and 13,000 square feet of conference space is to be built by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Opening is planned for 2001. This second hotel will replace the Omni International Hotel.

* The 329-room Doubletree Hotel at Courthouse Towers, one block from the convention center, is scheduled to open this summer.


Cleveland CVB

* (2l6) 621-4100, (800) 321-1001

* Fax: (216) 621-5967

Cleveland Convention Center

* (2l6) 348-2211

Fax: (216) 348-2262

This is a four-story center with 460,000 square feet of space, three theaters, and 28 meeting rooms. A plan for a new convention center of up to 450,000 square feet with a 600-room hotel is being developed.


Besides several new sports venues recently opened or under construction, the city is expanding its convention center and has added a runway at its international airport.


* The Hyatt Regency Columbus, connected to the Greater Columbus Convention Center, completed an S8 million guest room renovation in March.

Greater Columbus CVB

(6l4) 221-6623, (800) 626-0241

Fax: (614) 221-5618

Greater Columbus Convention Center

(614) 645-5000

Fax: (614) 645-5159

The center is adding 120,000 square feet of exhibit space, increasing the space to nearly 430,000 square feet. A 15,000-square-foot ballroom is also being built, along with 11 new meeting rooms; 100,000 square feet of retail space is being upgraded. The center offers Internet connectivity throughout the building and surrounding downtown hotels.


Plans call for a new performing arts center in downtown Dayton with a 2,200-seat theater. Last year construction began on RiverScape, a waterfront development project. The Dayton area has more than 7,000 hotel rooms.


Dayton / Montgomery County CVB

(800) 221-8235

Fax: (937) 226-8294

Dayton Convention Center

(800) 822-3498, (937) 333-4700

Fax: (937) 333-4711

The center has 77,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space, with two large exhibit halls capable of holding 400 booths.




* The top of the Pfister Hotel is undergoing renovation, and later this year, the hotel will open a workout and pool facility and an upscale lounge with excellent views of Lake Michigan.

* The Grand Milwaukee Hotel has been upgraded to the Sheraton Four Points Milwaukee Airport, with 502 rooms and 60,000 square feet of meeting space.

* The 554-room Hilton Milwaukee City Centre has finished a $40 million expansion that added 200 guest rooms and 4,000 square feet of meeting space (in addition to the existing 29,300 square feet), and an indoor water theme park. A skywalk is planned to connect to the Midwest Express Convention Center.



* On 275 lakeside acres, Lake Lawn Resort features an 18-hole Dick Nugent-designed championship golf course and 22 meeting rooms. It recently completed a renovation of all 31,000 square feet of meeting space and 284 guest rooms.


Greater Milwaukee CVB

(414) 273-3950

Fax: (414) 273-5596

(800) 231-0903

Midwest Express Center

(414) 908-6000

Fax: (414) 908-6010

Total Hotel Tax: 14.6%

Venue Menu

* Chicago’s popular Museum of Science and Industry can accommodate up to 800 guests for dinner or 3,000 for a reception in the exhibit area. (312) 684-1414

* At Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding, the audience participates in a satire of an Italian-American wedding. In addition to group discounts for performances at the downtown Chicago venue, there are separate function rooms for receptions. (312) 664-0773

* Try a wine-tasting event at the Chateau Chantal winery, open year-round for small groups in Traverse City, Mich. Tastings can be held in the chateau’s wine cellar or Great Room. (616) 223-4110

* In Columbus, Ohio, the Scioto Downs race track can tailor a special evening for groups in the Penthouse, the Clubhouse, or on the outdoor trackside Patio. Barn tours and trophy presentations are options. Open May through September. (614) 491-2515

* Track Attack Racing School in Indianapolis offers groups of up to 300 people a chance to learn the fundamentals of car racing–and to get behind the wheel. The company has its own race track, a road course with left and right turns. (317) 870-7223

Great Golf in the Great Outdoors

The northern Michigan shoreline of the country’s “freshwater ocean,” Lake Michigan, is dotted with celebrated golf courses and relaxing resorts. In fall, you’ll get cool-weather golf along with breathtaking foliage displays. In summer, you’ll watch sailboats navigate the beautiful blue lake. Here is a sampling of northern Michigan properties.

The Inn at Bay Harbor, Bay Harbor,

The appeal of a charming waterfront town with a stunning view of the Lake Michigan coast is the setting for The Inn at Bay Harbor, part of the Boyne Resort. There are 131 suites, many with fireplaces, kitchens, and balconies; six meeting rooms accommodate groups from 15 to 270.

There are two on-site championship golf courses.

Boyne Highlands, Harbor Springs,

A Bavarian-style resort 40 minutes south of Mackinac Island, Boyne Highlands has 415 total lodging accommodations. Groups from six to 600 can book 19 meeting rooms. Four championship courses include the Heather, the Moor, the Donald Ross Memorial, and the Arthur Hills.

Boyne Mountain, Boyne Falls,

Another Boyne resort with a Bavarian motif, Boyne Mountain has 240 guest rooms and 13 meeting rooms. During golf season, the ski lodge is transformed into a convention center- that can accommodate 1,400. A mile-long golf cart ride delivers guests to the first tee on top of Boyne Mountain’s renowned Monument Course. Lessons are available on this course as well as on Boyne Mountain’s Alpine course.

The Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island

Savor the Victorian ambience of an authentic 1800s town on an island that is accessible only by ferry boat or plane. Once there, travel is only on foot, or by bicycle or carriage. The famous Grand Hotel has the world’s longest front porch, 343 guest rooms, and 14 meeting rooms with a total capacity of 700 people. The Jewel’s Grand Nine is very playable for golfers of any caliber, while the Woods Nine offers a greater challenge. Horse-drawn carriages shuttle golfers between the nines.

Grand Traverse Resort & Spa, Acme,

Last year the 670-room Grand Traverse Resort along Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay debuted a 100,000-square-foot spa, plus the Wolverine golf course (Gary Player’s first course in the state, making a total of 72 holes of championship golf). The resort has more than 85,000 square feet of meeting space, accommodating up to 2,000.

–Kelle Larkin


Meetings Planners Say

To tell the truth, says Sandrine Milanello, “we were hoping to book Minneapolis, but when we didn’t get the hotel deal we wanted there we turned to Saint Paul, and they really came through for us.” Milanello is the meeting planner for the San Francisco-based Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Her group booked Saint Paul for a July 2001 annual meeting that will draw about. 1,000 attendees over a seven-day period.

One of the attractions of Saint Paul for the group was the city’s new science and technology museum, which the group hopes to use as a reception venue after a tour of the facility, according to Milanello. Another highlight of the meeting program will be an evening on the Mississippi River, which borders the city’s downtown.

“We’re also planning on holding our annual awards banquet aboard a large paddleboat,” Milanello says. It’s an event that is anticipated to attract about 400 attendees. Dinner and entertainment will be part of the evening program. “It should be a lot of fun.”

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