The Grass is Greener on top of the Cleveland Convention Center

After reading countless press releases over the last several months, I was thrilled to finally see the brand new Cleveland Convention Center in-person on a media trip to the grand opening celebration in June.

It’s huge – 750,000 square feet – and all the renderings had not done the structure justice. Built on the site of the city’s former convention center (which fell out of use in recent years), the new building offers views of Lake Erie and is within walking distance of the Cleveland Browns’ FirstEnergy stadium, Progressive Field where the Cleveland Indians play baseball and the rest of the bustling downtown.


Fascinatingly, the convention center is filled with natural light despite being located primarily underground. Clever engineering, an angled roof and lots of glass panels let in plenty of sunshine, while affording glimpses of the lakefront.

When we stopped in the kitchen for lunch and a quick tour, the chefs and executives present were thrilled to show off their culinary equipment, which is so efficient and powerful it can cook 500 chicken breasts in a matter of minutes and brew 90 gallons of coffee simultaneously. They could only guess at just how many thousands of people the center could serve at once and were eager for big groups to arrive. 

One of my favorite features of the property is the inviting green space on top of the convention center’s roof. Grass, benches and criss-crossing pathways create an awesome public place for local business people and conference attendees to stroll between meetings or to sit and enjoy lunch.

“This gives Cleveland what it has always wanted, a great downtown park space,” says Dave Johnson, the center’s public relations director.

The $465 million development opened early and under budget and includes the impressive new Global Center for Health Innovation.

With the new convention center, as well as classic venues and attractions like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, a booming culinary scene and the versatile I-X Center with more than one million square feet of exposition space, Cleveland is poised to become a powerful force in the meetings market.      

For more information and tons of Ohio pride, visit
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