CLEVELAND - More communities along Lake Erie are hoping to tap into the lake's potential for drawing convention delegates.
Developers in Huron, on South Bass Island, and in Ashtabula County are combining the lake setting and recreational activities with modern conference centers. Until now, the only lakefront property in Ohio that offered conference meeting space was Maumee Bay State Park, east of Toledo.
The park averages about 500 conferences a year, ranging in size from 12 to 400 people, manager Patrick Czarny said.
The Cleveland Convention Center was built in 1933 and updated in 1988. One recent proposal is to build a center at the Port of Cleveland, along the lake near Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Sawmill Creek Resort in Huron in Erie County plans to open a $5 million, 1,200-person conference center next summer.
Sawmill, a golf resort between Vermilion and Sandusky, is building Wilderness Hall a short walk from the lake. It plays host to about 300 meetings a year, but the new facility will accommodate bigger groups for two to three meetings at once.
In the resort islands area near Sandusky, retired firefighter Fred Berry wants to build a $22 million resort and convention center on South Bass Island. He operates a small lodging business there that has meeting space for up to 40 people. His proposed center, the Admiral Inn Resort and Convention Center, could accommodate about 2,000.