The Golden State Warriors are rolling, with a 3-0 lead in the NBA championship series. But the Cleveland Cavaliers are comeback kids, so anything’s possible. In fact, Cleveland could be called the “comeback city” for tourism, conventions and professional meetings.
Let’s look at how these world-champion cities stack up as meeting destinations. Since Game 4 of the NBA Finals is in Cleveland, let’s start there.
All of Northeast Ohio, which includes Cleveland, has undergone a massive $3.5 billion redevelopment, according to Destination Cleveland, the city’s CVB. Sharon Gronowski, vice president of convention services for Destination Cleveland, says the city is “eclectic, unpretentious and gritty, yet sophisticated.”
Meeting attractions include:
– A walkable downtown district that focuses on providing easy access to the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland’s 225,000-square-foot exhibition hall, more than 14,000 sq. ft. of meeting rooms and a 32,000-square-foot ballroom
– 18 downtown hotels, including Hyatt, Marriott and Westin. Hilton Cleveland Downtown offers 600 guest rooms and 50,000 sq. ft. of event space, in addition to top-floor Bar 32, with views of Lake Erie
– Home to the NFL Browns and MLB Indians, so it’s an exciting place for sports fans year-round
– For dining, James Beard award-winning chefs Michael Symon and Jonathon Sawyer have made their restaurants, Lola and The Greenhouse Tavern, destinations unto themselves for business travelers.
Resiliency is a word frequently used to describe Oakland. During the past decade, the city has asserted itself as a major player in the meetings and events market. Major investments to the city from shipping interests and private companies have helped spur infrastructure improvements, which has attracted hotels and restaurants, and a growing, vibrant recreation scene.
In Smart Meetings magazine’s July 2016 issue, featuring Warriors star Steph Curry, Selena Williams, a vice president at East Oakland Development Center, said, “The people of Oakland possess a certain resiliency and togetherness that I think is reflected in the Warriors.”
Meeting attractions include:
– A diverse economy—from University of California, Berkeley, in the posh hills above Oakland, to the modern port along the shore, to the city’s downtown center
– Lots of hotel choices, including Oakland Marriott City Center’s 500 guest rooms and 85,125 sq. ft. of event space. Hilton Oakland Airport is a new hotel with contemporary architectural styling, 360 guest rooms and 16,000 sq. ft. of meeting space
– Lake Merritt, a relaxing place to spend an afternoon in nature without leaving the city
– Jack London Square—an estuary, park, shopping mall and walking area along the shore
– Culinary adventure, including Calavera, a Mexican restaurant and great place to celebrate, Lake Chalet on the waterfront and authentic urban barbecue at Haven.
Whichever team wins, both Cleveland and Oakland deserve five stars as great destination cities for corporate meeting planners.