The new Cleveland Convention Center, which officially opened for business two months ago, is looking for new management.
Late last week, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald admitted to a reporter and Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. Public Relations Director Dave Johnson confirmed what has been rum
ored for several weeks: that MMPI is looking at proposals to put the new venue and the adjoining Global Center for Health Innovation in the hands of a for-profit manager.
Johnson says, “MMPI is currently seeking to hire a convention center venue management company. Any recommendation by MMPI will be forwarded to Cuyahoga County as part of the appropriate approval process.”
Chicago-based MMPI first became interested in the convention center and what was then described as a medical mart in 2007. It lobbied in favor of the $465-million facility with a 225,00 square foot exhibit hall and then oversaw construction that started in 2011. The venue opened July 15.
However, in recent months Vornado Realty Trust, a New York-based real estate investment trust that owns MMPI, has ben reorganizing its business and selling off event-related properties it owned in Los Angeles, Boston and Washington, D.C.
In February, Mark Falanga, perhaps the company’s greatest advocate for the Cleveland Convention Center development, resigned as president of MMPI after 20 years with the company.
Johnson told the Cleveland Plain Dealer the new management company would
be “a major player in the convention industry,” leading to speculation that SMG and Global Spectrum were bidding on the project.