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Cuyahoga County Fact Check - Hilton Cleveland Downtown

The Hilton Downtown Cleveland as seen from the ground.Hilton Cleveland Downtown

  • The Hilton Cleveland Downtown is a publicly-owned hotel which is connected to the Huntington Cleveland Convention Center.
  • The project was approved in 2013, and construction was completed in 2016 just before Cleveland hosted the Republican National Convention.
  • The Cleveland-Cuyahoga Port Authority is the technical owner of the property and has a lease with Cuyahoga County. Cuyahoga County is responsible for hiring and managing the hotel operator and making debt payments associated with the project.
  • Hilton Worldwide operates the hotel.
  • CHM Warnick manages the hotel operator, including expenses and capital planning.
  • The Hilton Cleveland Downtown won the company’s 2018 Connie Award, as the best Hilton location with over 500 rooms in all of the Americas.

The County is legally required to make payments.

  • The Hilton was publicly financed by the Cleveland-Cuyahoga Port Authority through bonds.
  • Pursuant to the agreement with Hilton Worldwide, hotel revenues are part of the resources used to cover the annual bond payments, property taxes, and insurance. As a result of the pandemic, projected hotel revenues for 2020 were not met, and Cuyahoga County remains responsible for the revenue to make the debt payments.

What is the benefit in having the hotel?

  • Since the opening of the Hilton, Cuyahoga County has seen a significant increase in high-profile events such as the 2016 Republican National Convention and 2019 MLB All-Star Game.
  • The hotel has also contributed to the region’s success in securing events like the 2021 NFL Draft, the 2022 NBA All-Star Game, and the 2024 NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four. These events are expected to have a projected economic impact of $222 million.
  • According to a study conducted by CSU, the total economic impact of the 2016 Republican National Convention was $142.2 million.
  • According to the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, the economic impact of the 2019 MLB All-Star Game was estimated to be $65 million. 

Is a publicly owned hotel common?

  • Yes, there are more than thirty hotel developments throughout the country that are tied to convention centers or gateway airports.

Impact of COVID

  • Hotel occupancy in downtown Cleveland was 32% for the week ending August 29, 2020, down from 71% for the same period in 2019.

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