Will Cleveland's new Medical Mart steal crowds from IX Center?

CLEVELAND - Officials at the IX Center and Medical Mart said any thought of either drawing business from the other isn't likely.

Dave Johnson, Medical Mart's director of public relations and marketing, said the two are very different venues with unique ways of bringing in new businesses, guests and money to Cleveland.

"What I'd like people to understand is having both the IX Center and a new Cleveland Convention Center that's competitive, all that does is help bring more events to Cleveland and northeast Ohio. This city and this region really haven't been on the radar screen as a convention destination for three decades," Johnson said.

"Now we have the facility, now the other things beginning to fall into place."

President of the Cleveland Auto Show Lou Vitantonio has been working the IX Center's floors to ensure Cleveland-area residents are happy for more than 17 show seasons. One is free parking for his auto show.

"You can't have people walk in the door grumbling about $8 for parking right before they buy a ticket to get in to the car show. That doesn't happen here," Vitantonio said.

"This doesn't happen in New York and Detroit and other places where the auto shows go. You can't drive your semi onto the floor to drop your cars and unload them like here… This is the fifth largest show in the country. We're certainly not the fifth largest market in the country."

While Med Mart's Johnson said the new convention center will be a "B-to-B" venue, mainly drawing crowds from outside the Cleveland area, he maintains that neither site is expected to lose business to the other.

"The IX Center is really geared toward the consumer shows," Johnson said. "So opposed to us who live here going to the IX Center more traditional consumer-based shows, the shows in the convention center are really more business-to-business-based type of events."

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