by Ann Shepphird | August 26, 2015

On a recent visit to Cincinnati, Ohio, I found quite a bit of group activity going on, including a world-class tennis tournament featuring the top players in the world, a Major League Baseball game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Arizona Diamondbacks, a parade of Shriners through the downtown area and a number of events at nightlife venues that included a rooftop terrace overlooking the city and an ale house found in a renovated church.

As I learned on my trip, Cincinnati has been undergoing a revitalization in recent years that has substantially increased its offerings for groups, both in its infrastructure and in its increasingly hopping (pun intended) craft beer scene, which I would call burgeoning if it hadn’t been around for more than 150 years.

At the city’s largest meeting venue, the Duke Energy Convention Center, improvements include a partnership with ArtWorks to bring local art pieces into the center. The center has also been uncovering and restoring two abstract murals that were commissioned and installed by well-known artist Charley Harper in 1970 that were subsequently covered up, with an unveiling scheduled for November. Other updates include green initiatives such as new LED lights, solar panels and locally sourced food; a renovation of its café; and new paint and carpet throughout the center.

Just outside the city in the suburb of Sharonville, construction is about to begin on a new hotel to be connected to the Sharonville Convention Center. The Hyatt Place/Sharonville–Convention Center is expected to feature 120 guest rooms and more than 2,000 square feet of meeting space.

In other hotel news, three new properties have opened in downtown Cincinnati: the Homewood Suites, Hampton Inn & Suites and Renaissance Hotel by Marriott. Future projects include a new Autograph Collection Hotel by Marriott and an AC Hotel by Marriott at the Banks, both expected in 2017, and a Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites, which is expected to open later this year.

More unique event space can be found at Taft’s Ale House, a microbrewery and restaurant named after the former president and Cincinnati native, which opened earlier this year in a restored church in the revitalized Over-the-Rhine neighborhood with 13,000 square feet of space on three levels.

Also newly revitalized is Cincinnati’s historic riverfront area between Paul Brown Stadium and the Great American Ball Park. Known as the Banks Entertainment District, the area offers event space at the Annie W. & Elizabeth M. Anderson Pavilion, located under the newly opened Carol Ann's Carousel at Smale Riverfront Park, which can host groups of up to 350 people (who also have access to ride the carousel), and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, which offers event space for up to 380 people.

The district also features restaurants with event space, including the Moerlein Lager House, run by Christian Moerlein Brewing Company, which recently partnered with the Duke Energy Convention Center to create a signature lager featuring the center’s signature “Cincinnati” sign. As I mentioned, it’s a city that likes its craft beer.