Ballroom, better views planned for Seagate Center

Published: Feb. 13, 2018 at 3:54 PM EST
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After a developer announced plans for a $20 million dollar makeover of Hotel SeaGate, Lucas County commissioners announced refurbishing the SeaGate Convention Centre would have to be next.

An ambitious project is planned, but tens of millions of dollars are needed.

The idea is to attract business conventions through what commissioners see as vital renovations.

Right now, Toledo doesn't have problem attracting convention business. Tuesday, workers were prepping for this weekend's House and Home Show.

Last week, the Auto Show drew crowds at the SeaGate Centre.

But Toledo believes attracting business conventions is an economic necessity.

The county feels the city is losing out largely because SeaGate Centre needs upgrades.

Commissioner Carol Contrada is leading the commissioner's effort to revitalize the convention center.

Their plan calls for spending $40-million on two major renovations.

One big change is moving the entrance to the convention center to Fifth-Third Field ballpark side of the building on Monroe Street.

Contrada says, "We are going to punch some windows through that wall, bring some natural light into the exhibition hall. it will be a much prettier view and you can get extra parking there."

The other change is adding a rooftop ballroom.

The design is based on the successful model built in Cleveland where business conventioneers stay under one roof.

Carla Nowak, with Destination Toledo, a tourism arm of the county says, "You want to have one space for your conventions and one space for your dinner and your receptions, the ballroom-type events."

SeaGate Centre does not have a ballroom, so that addition could be a major factor is attracting business groups to downtown.

Toledo is adding the hotel space it needs to accommodate business travelers. And the city has the entertainment attractions tourists and conventioneers want.

Now, commissioners say an upgraded convention center could pay off.

Contrada toled 13abc's Bill Hormann, "We project with this investment and these changes we will double the economic output of the convention center alone."

And add about 250-permanent jobs and create more customers for downtown businesses.

Commissioners talked with state lawmakers about the project and say reaction was enthusiastic.

The county is asking Ohio to put up $10 million. Lucas County would put in $20 million through the hotel-motel tax, and the final $10 million of the $40 million project would be through private/public partnerships.

State lawmakers could decide whether to contribute to the project in March.

Commissioners plan a more detailed rollout of their plan at an event by the end of the February.