Want a compact city with affordable prices, a wealth of meeting and event options within a walk or water taxi ride, and a business community committed to bending over backwards to accommodate your group? Toledo, Ohio, may just fit the bill.
"Any time of year, there’s always entertainment," says Julie Bolfa, convention sales manager for Destination Toledo. "Fifth Third Field is located here—home of the Toledo Mud Hens [minor league baseball team]—and you have the new Huntington Center arena on the other side of the convention center, so it’s nice for conventions that come in."
Huntington Center, a $105 million multipurpose arena that seats 8,000, has featured star power including The Eagles and Elton John, besides serving as home ice of the Toledo Walleye hockey team. The latest major development downtown, it sits conveniently next to the 75,000-square-foot Toledo SeaGate Convention Center.
And the options don’t stop in the primary convention zone, either.
"We’ve got all types of restaurants in the Warehouse District and on the riverfront," Bolfa says. "In summer we have a water taxi that goes from the hotels to The Docks riverfront dining complex, which has indoor and outdoor dining and a dock for boats. Right next to that is a sandpit volleyball court, and down from that is the Willis B. Boyer [Museum Ship], a huge ship that’s been made into a floating museum, and which you can have events on."
The 100-passenger Sandpiper riverboat is another floating venue option.
The city features two large downtown hotels; The Park Inn Toledo, with 400 guest rooms, and the Crowne Plaza Hotel Toledo, with 200 rooms. In all, the destination offers 17 hotels with 7,000 rooms in the Greater Toledo area, with about 2,500 rooms in Toledo proper. Bolfa says the city can comfortably accommodate about 2,500 rooms on peak.
Bolfa says the city is gearing up to welcome the $250 million Hollywood Casino Toledo in 2012, owned by Penn National Gaming, and local hotels will offer free transportation to and from. The facility will eventually offer meeting space, according to Bolfa.
All of this adds up to a destination that’s a good bet for citywide groups such as the YMCA National Gymnastics Championships, which in 2012 will have its opening ceremonies at Fifth Third Field and enjoy city streets being closed for the festivities, and Gauverband Nordamerika, which held its national convention in Toledo last year, with all the accompanying lederhosen, dancing and general good-time carrying on one would associate with a large gathering of Germanophiles.