FOCUS – Expo Attendees Should Expect Changes in Indy

Frequent visitors to the Dealer Expo in Indianapolis will no doubt want to stay in a certain hotel, or dine at a certain restaurant. The Indy landscape is changing, however. Earlier this year, city planners received a study suggesting the expansion of the convention center; and, in June, construction began on a new hotel attached to the centrally located Circle Centre mall.
Located in the heart of downtown Indianapolis and within walking distance of numerous hotels and restaurants, the Indiana Convention Center & RCA Dome (ICCRD) houses more than 400,000 square feet of exhibit space and nearly 140,000 square feet of meeting room space.
In March 2004, the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association (ICVA) announced that a feasibility study requested by the city-owned facility concluded that sufficient demand exists to warrant yet another significant expansion to the site.
At the time, a consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers, which conducted the study, told the ICVA that the addition of 275,000 square feet of exhibit space plus additional meeting, ballroom and support areas could realize an additional 18 to 23 major conventions and trade shows and four to five consumer shows per year, events which would generate $165 million in economic impact while creating at least 2,700 new jobs.
Indianapolis already offers planners more than 6,000 hotel rooms in the immediate downtown area, including 2,600 rooms connected via skywalk to the ICCRD and an additional 1,500 rooms within walking distance to the facility. Still, the study determined that a new headquarters hotel offering 800 to 1,000 rooms, or an expansion of an existing connected hotel to 1,200 rooms, was critical to help absorb incremental demand associated with convention center expansion.
In July, Indianapolis city and hospitality industry leaders broke ground on the city’s first five-star property, the 23-story Conrad Hotel Indianapolis.
Scheduled to open in 2006, the Conrad Hotel Indianapolis will be connected via a skywalk system to the ICCRD, bringing the total number of hotel guestrooms connected to the facility to 3,087 units.
Located adjacent to Circle Centre mall and the Indianapolis Artsgarden, the hotel will boast 243 luxury guestrooms, including 23 suites, 30 apartments and 16 residential condominiums; a spa and fitness center; anupscale restaurant; and more than 10,000 square feet of meeting space.
The ICCRD has been an integral part of the city since the original exposition center portion of the facility opened in 1972. A first round of expansion, a $77.5 million project in 1984, added exhibit and meeting room space and the RCA Dome, originally called the Hoosier Dome. Then, in 1993, a second expansion included the renovation of the convention center, an addition of more exhibit space and the Sagamore Ballroom — the largest in the state of Indiana.
A third expansion, a recent $45 million project, added new entrances on Maryland Street, a new skywalk linking to the Marriott Hotel and a landscaped plaza, and a new entrance at West Street.

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