Small Market Meetings

JUL 2017

The Newspaper for Smaller Cities, Facilities and Planners.

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C a r b o n d a l e C h a r l e s t o n Illinois Meeting Guide 42 MEET Where else can you host corporate gatherings in an elegant ballroom, meet with business partners in a quiet private lounge, or collaborate during breakout sessions at a sophisticated economic development center, all on the site of an accredited research university? ONLY CARBONDALE 126 S. Illinois Avenue | Carbondale, Il 62901 | 618.529.4451 | services to bid on and attract meetings and confer- ences. The Bone Student Center is the school's major event venue with several function spaces, including the 14,575-square-foot Brown Ballroom and Braden Auditorium, with theater seating for over 3,400. On campus, the 226-room Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel and Conference Center has about 24,000 square feet of meeting space, most of it in the 20,000-square-foot Redbird Ballroom, which can be divided into seven smaller spaces. Across the street, the 191-room Hyatt Place has three flexible meeting rooms with 2,600 square feet of function space. Both hotels are less than a three-minute walk to Uptown Station, one of the busiest Amtrak stations in the state. Two miles north of campus, the ISU Alumni Center has a variety of event spaces; the largest, the Reiman Ballroom, can seat 180 people for dinner. The U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington can seat 8,000, and the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts can seat 1,200 in its auditorium. The theater also rents out its elegant lobby, ballroom and multipurpose room. Carbondale Cinnamon Smith, executive director of Carbondale Tourism, describes Carbondale as an eclectic town with the amenities of a big city "but without the drawbacks." The city offers arts and entertainment without the traf- "friendly and accepting of new people or visitors to the area," she said. The vibrant campus of Eastern Illinois University is always a hub of activity, and "the university obviously draws in a lot of culture to the area, not only with the students who are here, but also the events they host on campus," Ratliff said. The Doudna Fine Arts Center has a variety of function space, as well as auditoriums for audi- ences ranging in number from 50 to 500. The University Union hosts the most events and offers a variety of venues: the 7,400-square-foot Grand Ballroom, the University Ballroom that can seat 250 for banquets, classrooms, meeting rooms, a lecture hall and two auditoriums. The Unique Suites Hotel, just a couple of miles west of campus, is Charleston's only full-service property. The 77-room hotel has about 4,000 square feet of function space, as well as the Brick House Bar and Grill. The city also has a Days Inn and several bed-and-breakfasts, and larger events often book hotel rooms in the nearby town of Mattoon. When visiting for events, attendees often check out the Lincoln-Douglas Debate Museum or the Lincoln Log Cabin, which was the home of Abraham Lincoln's father and stepmother. fic or expense — and with nature at its doorstep. When you add Southern Illinois University (SIU) students to the mix, the city of 26,000 people grows to about 40,000. As with most college towns, the popula- tion is transient, but students often stick around — or come back, Smith said. On campus, planners will find a number of venues, but the SIU Student Center is the largest. Among its 28 multipurpose rooms, groups can use the 300-seat audi- torium and a large ballroom that can be broken into four smaller spaces. The city-owned Civic Center can host an event for 600 people, or its space can be split into six smaller conference areas. The 100-room Holiday Inn has 2,800 square feet of flexible space, and the Garden Grove Event Center has both indoor and outdoor venues. At SIU's Touch of Nature Environmental Center, groups can canoe, kayak, hike, rock climb and zip line. Meeting groups can also arrange to tour the school's new Fermentation Science Institute before heading out to sample craft beers at local breweries. Charleston In Charleston, "everyone is tight knit and helps everybody out," said Diane Ratliff, who handles tour- ism and special events for the city of 21,000 residents. But that closeness doesn't close it off; the town is

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