The Progressive Cleveland Boat Show & Fishing Expo will kick off the reopening of the I-X Center when it docks for five days, Jan. 13-17, ending 18 months of uncertainty about where the show would be staged in 2022. The Lake Erie Marine Trades Association produced a digital show earlier this year because of Covid.
“The boat show was the first big show held in the I-X when it opened in 1986,” says LEMTA president Michelle Burke. “And we’re excited we’ll be the first show to reopen the I-X in January 2022. It’s Ohio’s oldest and largest boat show and was held in the I-X Center for 35 years when Covid shut down the building and the parent company opted to permanently halt all exposition operations.”
A tentative plan was developed to relocate the 2022 show back to the downtown Huntington Cleveland Convention Center, where it was held from 1957 through 1985. “The staff at the Huntington was incredible to work with, doing everything possible to be certain the big consumer shows that are such a part of Cleveland’s traditions did not disappear,” Burke said. “They held dates for us and all the other major consumer shows while the future of the I-X Center was in limbo. Their concern and support cannot be overstated.”
The Industrial Realty Group, one of the nation’s largest owners of commercial and industrial properties, recently purchased the I-X Corp. and announced it will reopen the center to host a 2022 schedule of events.
It was the extraordinary vision of Ray Park and his Park Corp. to acquire an abandoned factory that built military bombers and tanks and transform it into a grand facility that attracted thousands of showgoers annually. His work and investment opened the door to developing some of the largest shows in the nation. I know of Park’s accomplishments well, as I was president of LEMTA and moved the boat show to the I-X Center in 1986.
The I-X Center’s 900,000-square-foot main exhibit hall allowed the boat show to become among the largest in the country.
NMTA Offers Grants To Promote Boating
Despite Covid-19 forcing the cancellation of the Seattle Boat Show last January, the Northwest Marine Trade Association’s successful grant program to promote boating and fishing is underway.
A portion of the exhibit space rental fees collected at the Seattle show each January are dedicated to NMTA’s Grow Boating program. Although there was no in-person Seattle show this year, the Grow Boating oversight committee’s stewardship of funding over the years produced some reserves that can now be used for the grant work.
“We recognize that many groups and programs were hard hit by Covid-19 in 2020 and 2021,” said Karsten McIntosh, NMTA director of communications. “So we’re very pleased to be able to offer these grants to help our valuable community-based organizations continue their amazing programs.”
NMTA’s Grow Boating objective is simple: to support programs that increase the number of boaters and encourage current boaters to boat more often. Since its inception in 2003, NMTA has awarded nearly $2 million to promote boating in the Pacific Northwest through various events, sponsorships, grants and programs.
This year, 10 grants of $1,000 each will be awarded to non-profit organizations. The grants fall into three categories:
• Youth Boating Grants are awarded to groups or organizations for an event or program aimed at increasing youth participation.
• Discover Boating Grants are made available to groups or organizations that seek funding for an event or program designed to introduce new people to boating.
• Boater Education/Safety Grants are awarded to programs that educate boaters about safe operation on the region’s waterways.
NMTA is the nation’s largest regional marine association. Its membership comprises more than 700 companies, including dealers, brokers, marinas, boatyards, manufacturers, retailers and suppliers. It produces the Seattle Boat Show, which is the West Coast’s largest show, and the Anacortes Boat and Yacht Show.