When it comes to sports teams as well as state-of-the-art sports venues, there’s no doubt that Ohio is in the major leagues. For planners looking to infuse big-game excitement into a meeting or event, opportunities abound just steps from downtown hotels and convention centers around the state.
Whether it’s a game or event at the venues that are home to the Indians, Cavaliers or Browns, Cleveland pro-sports experiences are within easy reach for visitors, according to Mike Burns, vice president of convention sales for Destination Cleveland.
“We’re fortunate that all of our major sports teams are located downtown,” he said. “They not only drive local traffic to our restaurants, but they offer great opportunities for groups to experience them during meetings.”
Among the city’s major sports venues is FirstEnergy Stadium, home to the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, which offers 11 private event spaces with sweeping views of Lake Erie and downtown. Equipped with high-definition TVs, customizable audiovisual and full-service bars, these include the BMW City Club, which accommodates up to 3,000 people, and the more intimate Club 46, which holds up to 130. When the Browns are not playing, behind-the-scenes tours of the facility can be arranged, giving participants the chance to emerge from the tunnel and step out onto the field just like their favorite players.
A classic downtown ballpark, Progressive Field comes alive during baseball season whenever a Cleveland Indians home game is in progress. Private event spaces include the new Terrace Club, where groups of 150 to 250 can enjoy buffet service with prime views of the field, and the expansive Time Warner Cable Club, which can host tradeshows and other large events, and also offers outdoor seating on the first-base line.
A host of other event spaces include the Visitor’s Clubhouse, Home Run Porch and the Indians Hall of Fame. When games are not in progress, groups can enjoy teambuilding events, suiting up in Indians jerseys, engaging in batting practice and other activities and enjoying ballpark fare on the field.
Known as “The Q,” Quicken Loans Arena took center stage last year as home to the Cleveland Cavaliers, winners of the 2016 NBA Championship, and as the venue for the Republican National Convention. The versatile facility hosts over 200 events a year, including concerts, Lake Erie Monsters hockey games and others. The arena also offers extensive meeting and banquet facilities as well as catering with an emphasis on local fare, including cuisine from Cleveland’s own celebrity chef Michael Symon.
For many groups coming to Cincinnati, the chance to catch the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium or the Reds at Great American Ball Park is a highlight of the meetings program, according to Kim Sherlock, senior sales manager of corporate sales and sports development for the Cincinnati USA CVB. She added that both venues are also versatile sites for events and teambuilding.
“When groups want to think outside the box and want a break from the four walls of a meeting room, Brown Stadium or the Reds’ ballpark have some great options,” she said. “We can do customized teambuilding at each one, getting out on the field to throw pitches or a football. We’ve had groups get out on the field and do yoga or run around the bases. More companies are looking for ways to get people outside and in the fresh air.”
Overlooking the Ohio River and within walking distance of many downtown hotels, Paul Brown Stadium hosts functions that include awards banquets and corporate meetings in such spaces as the East Club Lounge, which offers a soaring atrium with skyline views and walkouts to stadium seating, and the West Club Lounge, which offers breakout space for training seminars. Other spaces include the Press Box Dining Room, which hosts up to 300 people with unmatched views of the game, and the Player’s Suites & Lounge, an intimate space adorned with Bengals memorabilia.