CLEVELAND -- Looking from the outside on Lakeside Avenue, you don't really get a feel for the enormous size of the new Cleveland Convention Center.
But it's a different world inside.
Dave Johnson, the public realtions director, said, "Until you go underground, you don't see the 223,000-square-feet. It's the size of five football fields."
We got the first look at the three large exhibit halls for conventions. They come with 35 meeting rooms, and if you want a ballroom, here it is --32,000-square-feet and it will be the largest in Ohio. It's large enough to serve 1,000 guests for dinner.
Next to the exhibit halls are the underground loading docks, which can fit 17 semi-trucks at the same time for unloading materials for exhibits. This can save time and money, two things future conventions are banking on.
Johnson said, "It certainly levels the playing field. We haven't been in the game because we didn't have a facility and now we do."
And with the new Medical Mart included, with big names like the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and many others, it's the perfect attraction for the medical world.
And by building it, not only will they come, but they will spend.
Johnson said, "By year four and five, we should have around 250,000-300,000 people visiting Cleveland who will be leaving their money in our county and in our city as opposed to us spending our money here, we're actually going to be bringing people in here who will be leaving their money here."
Fifty-nine conventions and events are already planned for 2013 and 2014. Those events are expected to bring in $100 million to the county.
The convention center opens in July and the Medical Mart opens this fall.