Closed since March 2020, the I-X Center has finally sprung back to life. Industrial Realty Group took over the venue in August 2021, and we spoke with president Stuart Lichter to get a sense of what is to come.
Just how bad was COVID-19 for the I-X Center?
COVID was absolutely devastating. The whole professional management company was laid off, and the space was forcibly closed due to health regulations. It couldn’t even reopen because they weren’t staffed.
What changes are coming?
Shows were being staged in 2 million square feet, and, outside of Las Vegas and New York, shows like this operate in a lot smaller venues and are just as successful with the same economic impact. So by right-sizing shows, that will leave us with 1.5 million square feet to bring in jobs through new aviation and industrial tenants — and have an even larger benefit to the community than the space used to have.
What shows will be returning?
At the start of 2022, there will be the Cleveland Boat Show, the Wedding Show and the Auto Show. And everyone will have to keep their eyes peeled for some exciting new shows they haven’t seen before.
What’s the fate of the Ferris wheel?
That’s the question everyone wants answered. We’re not sure about the future of the Indoor Amusement Park, so we don’t have a cogent answer right now. But we promise that we are trying to figure out the future of the Ferris wheel.