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CLEVELAND (WJW) — The FOX 8 I TEAM has uncovered the story behind the closing of the I-X Center in Cleveland.

Wednesday morning, the I-TEAM revealed the property would close by the end of the year, and the news left many people heartbroken.

For more than three decades, families have gone to the I-X Center for the indoor amusement park, car shows, boat shows, garden shows, home improvement shows and more.

The I-X Center released a statement blaming the COVID-19 outbreak restrictions on large gatherings. The center hasn’t hosted a big event since earlier in the year.

The I-TEAM has found through multiple sources another factor leading to the closing. The center has also faced rent bills piling up from the City of Cleveland for hundreds of thousands of dollars a month even with the complex largely shut down.

“I remember going there as a kid. Honestly, can’t believe it’s closing. I used to go every year for the dog shows,” said Pat Klinger.

We also spoke to the president of the Cleveland Boat Show, Michelle Burke, who said she is shocked.

“The I-X Center is unique in the vast amount of space that is available there especially for the boat show and the large amount of product coming in,” she said.

The Mayor of Brook Park also spoke out.

“It’s also devastating news for all of Northeast Ohio,” said Mayor Michael Gammella.

Hundreds of people have worked at the I-X Center. Some full-time, some part-time, and others on a seasonal basis.

And, the I-X Center produced a lot of tax money for Brook Park and Cleveland.

“But then our restaurants, our hotels will no longer get people who stayed around those facilities when they went to the IX Center,” said the mayor.

The Auto Show released a statement saying car dealers hope the City of Cleveland can find someone to eventually reopen the I-X Center. Other trade shows do too. 

Meantime, many people are now asking questions about refunds in connection with shows booked at the I-X Center that won’t be happening.

The I-X Center says it is sending refunds to vendors connected to shows the center owned and put on, but vendors for other shows will have to deal with promoters of those shows.

In its statement, the I-X Center thanked everyone for making the place a Cleveland landmark. For now, it will only hold 35 years of memories.

The City of Cleveland also issued a statement:

“The City of Cleveland thanks Ray Park for his many years managing the IX Center. The IX Center has been visited by many who have enjoyed the consumer shows and the exposition events. The City recognizes the challenge operating an exposition facility in an industry that has been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The City’s Department of Port Control leases the IX Center property to the IX Center Corp. The City of Cleveland will be reviewing options relative to the future uses for the 2 million square foot building.”

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