Cleveland Boat Show looks for new home while beginning its lawsuit against I-X Center

Suit contends I-X Center should honor next three years of contract once pandemic ends

Cleveland Boat Show looks for new home while beginning its lawsuit against I-X Center
The Progressive Cleveland Boat Show looks for a new location, sues to remain at old location (Source: Progressive Cleveland Boat Show)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The Cleveland Boat Show, once one of the biggest in the country, signals the beginning of boating season in Northeast Ohio.

“Boats are going in probably this week,” says Joshua Kelly, owner of JK Detailing, noting boating season comes regardless of the choppy pandemic waters.

The five-day January event, using almost 500,000 square feet of the I-X Center and usually featuring 400 boats, is a big boost to the local boating industry.

“The boat show does a lot for us,” says Doug Moose, general manager of Sailing, Inc. “Gets people excited about it, gets people out so they can physically see all the new makes and new models.”

But this year, boaters couldn’t physically see all the new makes and models. The pandemic forcing the show to go virtual, denying boats needed interaction.

“When you’re there, you get a lot of expertise of people telling you what to do,” says Kelly.

Cleveland Boat Show looks for new home while beginning its lawsuit against I-X Center

The I-X shut down in October, leaving the Cleveland Boat Show, Auto Show, Home and Garden Show, and other big events looking for a new home.

But a lawsuit by the Boat Show contends the I-X Center is contractually obligated to host the event for the next three years once the pandemic ends.

The suit also contends that the I-X Center has used the pandemic to change its business model, from event space to office and warehouse space with GOJO Industries, makers of Purell, now leasing space there.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael Russo will handle the case.

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