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Government and Politics

Cleveland's new convention center is getting new management
Cuyahoga County will drop MMPI in favor of a management team more committed to the convention and exhibit business

Kevin Niedermier
New management is coming to Cleveland's recently opened convention center.
Courtesy of Kevin Niedermier
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The Chicago company that helped launch Cleveland’s new convention center will soon be out as the facility’s manager and operator.  Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald says MMPI will be replaced later this year. As WKSU’s Kevin Niedermier reports, the county doesn’t believe the company can take the convention center to the next level.


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In 2008, Cuyahoga County reached a deal with Merchandise Mart Properties Incorporated to run the future convention center and attached medical equipment exhibit hall.

But, just two months after the new publicly funded facility opened this summer, the county revealed that new management is coming. Attorney Jeff Applebaum represents the county on the convention center project. He says dropping MMPI has been under discussion for some time, and the company agrees with the decision. Applebaum says the pending change is because MMPI’s parent company, Vornado, has steadily gotten out of the convention and exhibit business.

“They’ve sold off assets, they’ve sold off Merchandise Mart type facilities in other locations, so we’ve known for some time that their interest and commitment to this type of project is less than at the outset.

"On the other hand, as we’ve developed this facility, others who are predominate operators and industry leaders have taken a great interest in advancing this facility to the next level." 

Applebaum will not say who the new operator will be, but says the deal should be finalized by mid-November. The county pays MMPI about $9 million a year. Applebaum will not reveal what the new deal will cost, but says it will be better economically for the county.

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