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End of an era: Cleveland's I-X Center to close at the end of this year due to pandemic

The I-X Center has been hosting major events in Cleveland since 1985.

CLEVELAND — After 35 years of hosting auto shows, indoor amusement parks, home & garden shows, and more, Cleveland's International Exposition Center (I-X Center) has announced that it will be closing at the end of this year. 

Because of COVID-19, the I-X Center has largely been closed for events and shows since the pandemic began in March. 

"The global pandemic has decimated the event industry as well as many other businesses and has ultimately led to this decision," the I-X Center said in a release. 

The I-X Center started hosting major events in 1985, welcoming more than two million visitors annually. In the late 1980’s, the 2.2 million square foot building was first recognized in Guinness World Records as the largest single building convention center in the U.S. with a net of 1.6 million square feet of exhibit space.

The facility's size as well as its location adjacent to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and ease of access to multiple interstates made it a desirable place to hold trade shows and events. 

The release states that the I-X Center generated millions of dollars annually in economic impact to Northeast Ohio.

The City of Cleveland, which owns the I-X Center property, acquired the facility by threat of eminent domain on January 14, 1999. It was at that time, the city then leased the facility to I-X Center Corporation, who successfully handled the day-to-day operations for one of the largest, private convention centers in the U.S.

"The I-X Center would like to thank all its customers, employees, and attendees who helped make the I-X Center a success over the past 35 years," the release adds. 

On Wednesday afternoon, David Gilbert, the president and CEO of Destination Cleveland provided this statement to 3News about the shutdown of the I-X Center:

“The I-X Center was an important part of Cleveland’s events, meetings and conventions landscape, and it’s disappointing to hear that it is closing permanently. The closing illustrates the devastating economic effect of COVID-19 on the events, conventions and tourism industries for organizations, their employees and the ancillary businesses that count on places like the I-X Center to drive patrons to their establishments. 

 Destination Cleveland wasn’t aware of the decision before it was reported by local news organizations and is determining the long-term effect on our overall events offering. Over the next few years, Destination Cleveland had only one confirmed convention and one confirmed multi-year, repeating sports event booked to take place at the I-X Center. Our sales team is reaching out to those clients to discuss next steps, including how we can accommodate the confirmed meetings/events in Cleveland as scheduled. We hope there may be meetings/events industry uses for the facility in the future.”

What memories do you have of going to the I-X Center over the years? You can share them with us by posting in the comments on Facebook, or texting your photos to 216-344-3300.  

You can see our preview of the 2020 Cleveland Auto Show, one of the last events held at the I-X Center before the pandemic, in the video below: