CLEVELAND, June 27, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- As it celebrates its 25th anniversary season with a busy schedule of trade and consumer shows, Cleveland's International Exposition Center (I-X Center) is investing in new events and amenities that could possibly double its 1.5 million annual visitors.
In addition to creating new consumer shows, the I-X Center plans to invest another $25 million to $30 million over the next few years – including nearly $3 million this year – to upgrade visitor amenities, and improve traffic flow and parking. Near-term enhancements include upgrading food and restroom facilities, improving traffic and visitor flow by adding a third lane to the main access road, and expanding paved parking areas that will include enhanced exterior lighting.
"Our goal is to grow attendance and become even more of a destination venue by presenting a wide array of spectacular events that appeal to diverse audiences from Northeast Ohio and throughout the Midwest," said Robert J. Peterson, I-X Center president. "That is why we are proactively investing in our facility." Peterson added that more than $75 million has been invested in the I-X Center since its opening to make it a premier global exposition center.
With more than 2.2 million square feet of gross space and over 1.4 million square feet of exhibit space, the I-X Center remains a popular venue for events staged by commercial producers as well as non-profit trade associations. These include Solon-based Marketplace Events, producer of 30 consumer home shows in 20 markets across North America, which will bring back the Great Big Home & Garden Expo next February. It also includes the Greater Cleveland Automobile Dealers' Association, which presents the Greater Cleveland Auto Show – the fifth largest auto show in the country.
Increasingly, the I-X Center also produces events – such as its popular I-X Indoor Amusement Park, which recently concluded its 22nd annual springtime run. Most popular among these events is the Fabulous Food Show, which returns November 11 to 13 for its sixth serving of celebrity chefs, demonstrations and exhibits.
"The Fabulous Food Show has become the premier food show in the country in just a few short years," said Peterson. "Visitors come to the I-X Center from New York, Florida and points in between to see favorite chefs such as Giada De Laurentiis, Paula Deen, Bobby Flay, Guy Fieri, Alton Brown and Cleveland's own Michael Symon."
In fact, the show's popularity with the public is growing so rapidly that the I-X Center will host the Fabulous Food Show, Spring Edition in April 2012.
Another new show, the International Beer Fest, made its debut on May 13 and 14 of this year. Modeled after the long-established Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado, the local event was the largest showcase and competition of world beers in the Midwest, and featured three public tasting sessions with 200 stellar breweries from around the world and showcased 800 different beers. The two-day event drew nearly 9,000 attendees, many coming from other states and Canada.
"It's our hope that the International Beer Fest will eventually become the largest such event east of the Mississippi River," said Peterson.
This fall also marks the return of two major shows that were introduced in 2010. The Piston Power Show (September 30 to October 3) will showcase hundreds of piston-powered cars and other vehicles, from a number of aircraft, including a WWII B-17 bomber and a P-51 Mustang, to motorcycles, and from trucks to tractors. And Trick or Treat Street (October 22 to 23 and 28 to 30) will offer rides, treats and not-so-scary Halloween happenings for children 10 and younger.
As it adds to its year-round event calendar, the I-X Center is also investing in the future of the facility in order to accommodate the needs of its shows and visitors, said Peterson.
"We're tremendously proud to welcome more than a million-and-a-half guests every year," he said. "As we continue to invest in enhancing our facility and presenting spectacular shows throughout the year, we're aiming even higher and hope to double that number, including many more from across the nation."
Noting that the I-X Center is within a 20-minute drive of the new Medical Mart & Cleveland Convention Center under construction downtown, Peterson added, "Our facilities are complementary; we primarily serve the large events that require substantial amounts of space, such as the Greater Cleveland Auto Show, the Great Big Home & Garden Expo, Piston Power and the Indoor Amusement Park. Cleveland is in a truly unique position nationally and is very fortunate to have these complementary facilities in such close proximity, enabling it to host a wide range of events from medical trade shows and conventions at the downtown convention center to mega-shows at the I-X Center."
The I-X Center today is one of the largest trade show and exhibition centers in the country. Its first International Capital Goods Trade Fair in 1985 was the beginning of a long list of trade and consumer shows that continue each year, providing employment for nearly 1,000 people in support of its shows and events. Click www.ixcenter.com for more details.