Small Market Meetings

JUL 2017

The Newspaper for Smaller Cities, Facilities and Planners.

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C h a m p a i g n - U r b a n a B l o o m i n g t o n - N o r m a l July 2017 41 Courtesy Visit Champaign Co. Fans cheer at a University of Illinois football game. Universities attract high-class arts and entertain- ment, first-class activities and athletics, and world-class professors and programs. That allows relatively small cities, like these Illinois college towns, to boast ameni- ties like those found in larger metropolises: museums, performing-arts centers, fine dining, international acts and easy public transit. Champaign-Urbana Home to the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, the Champaign-Urbana area of Illinois may not immediately suggest global flair, but "we're fortunate enough to have one of the largest interna- tional populations in the country," said Terri Reifsteck, vice president of marketing for Visit Champaign County. The university has nearly 45,000 students, and about one-quarter of them are international, she said. Illini Union presides over the quad and has more than two dozen meeting spaces and conference rooms. The Illini Room can seat up to 480 at rounds or can be split into two or three smaller spaces, and the second- floor ballroom has 5,800 square feet. The union's Rec Room, where groups can bowl, shoot pool or play arcade games, is also available for private events. Also housed in the center, the Illini Union Hotel has 72 guest rooms and two suites. The university's StateFarm Center reopened in October after a $170 million renovation, and the 15,500-seat arena can be set up for events. C ollege towns are often the perfect package for residents, visitors and, of course, students, who are both residents and visitors. Adjoining the 125-room I Hotel and Conference Center on the south end of campus is the 38,000-square- foot Illinois Conference Center with two large ball- rooms and 10 meeting rooms. The Hilton Garden Inn Champaign/Urbana offers another 18,000 square feet of conference space and is next door to a Homewood Suites. About 30 miles west of town, the university-owned Allerton Park and Retreat Center is "absolutely stun- ning," Reifsteck said. The Georgian-style mansion has meeting space and 14 formal gardens and hiking trails on the grounds. Bloomington-Normal The sister cities of Bloomington and Normal are cra- dled in the C-shaped crook where interstates 74, 55 and 39 converge. The two communities are home to two major universities: Illinois State University (ISU) in Bloomington and Illinois Wesleyan in its slightly small- er neighbor, Normal. "Both of our communities are very trendy and high tech with the universities here," said Crystal Howard, director of the Bloomington-Normal Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Both universities have advanced each of the communities they're in." ISU has an "enormous amount of meeting space," and the CVB often works with the school's conference By Rachel Carter An Illinois Education

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