Toledo, Ohio: Glass City Rising


Dan Dickson
Published September 01, 2017

Toledo, Ohio, is in the middle of a renaissance, and the heart of the revitalization is beating in downtown. Developers are transforming historic warehouses into trendy lofts; restaurants are opening on every corner; investors are renovating hotels; and companies are moving their offices to the neighborhood that borders the Maumee River waterfront.

“There is a revitalization effort going on downtown that is intense,” said Tony Vetter, director of sales for the Destination Toledo Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s large in scale, and it encompasses the entire downtown, from hotels to attractions to restaurants.”

Visitors can find live music in downtown every night of the week, and the city now has two Designated Outdoor Refreshment Areas, or DORAs, that allow patrons to take their drinks with them in special to-go cups when leaving participating bars and restaurants. That allows people to meander and mingle, to take in the night sights and the nightlife.

“People can go out and enjoy the nightlife and not worry about open containers; it’s Ohio’s version of the French Quarter,” Vetter said.

Visitors will find 22 restaurants within a three-block radius of the Mud Hens baseball stadium, many of them in the Hensville entertainment district.

“It’s amazing the last two years the growth in locally farmed and locally owned restaurants throughout the city and in downtown,” said Cathy Miller, director of tourism.

ProMedica is nearing completion of its downtown campus that is converting a former KeyBank building and the city’s historic steam power plant into the health care organization’s administrative offices. ProMedica has also improved the riverfront Promenade Park, where people can gather for concerts or to watch a movie projected on the side of ProMedica’s parking structure.

Those are the kinds of redevelopment and reimagining projects that are drawing people to the city, not only to live and work, but also to stay and play.

“It’s a fun time to be here in Toledo,” Vetter said.

Main Meeting Spaces

Downtown is the city’s major meetings hub and home to many of its largest venues, namely the SeaGate Convention Centre, with 150,000 square feet of meeting space on three levels. The 75,000-square-foot, column-free exhibit space can be divided into three 25,000-square-foot halls, and 25 meeting rooms offer plenty of options for breakout sessions or smaller events. The center also has 20,000 square feet of prefunction space for larger groups, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ annual convention held there this summer.

“What especially sets us apart from larger cities like Columbus, Chicago, places like that, is when you come to Toledo, the space is adequate for your group, but you’re not sharing it with another group,” Vetter said. “Here you get special attention because you’re not sharing that space with two, three other groups.”

A skywalk connects to the adjacent Huntington Center, an 800-seat arena also managed by the convention center, said Carol DuPuis, director of sales for the SeaGate Convention Centre. Because both are under the same management, meetings that require an arena setting for larger general sessions or opening events, such as Living Proof Live in September, don’t have to go far. It also allows planners to easily use Huntington Center events as evening activities, buying tickets for attendees to concerts, hockey games or the circus without having to worry about the weather or transportation. One medical gathering bought 600 tickets for attendees to catch a Janet Jackson concert, DuPuis said.

On the other side of the SeaGate Convention Centre, groups will find Fifth Third Field, the 8,943-seat minor league baseball stadium that’s home to the Toledo Mud Hens. The stadium has private event space, including party suites, and the surrounding Hensville warehouse district is a shopping, dining and entertainment hub that also offers several event venues and private dining spaces. Top of Nine has an outdoor deck that spans three rooftops, and Fleetwood’s Rooftop, on top of Fleetwood’s Tap Room, delivers views of the baseball field and the Maumee riverfront. Hensville Park is a festival park and event lawn with a stage that sits between the convention center and the stadium.

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