Indianapolis Plans Convention Center Expansion

November 26, 2018

Indianapolis is no stranger to convention business. USA Today’s top ranked convention city, Indy already has a robust infrastructure in place to support large events. But the city is aiming for even bigger and even better, with new plans for significant expansion.

The Indiana Convention Center already boasts 12 connected properties and 4,700 connected rooms. But last month, an expansion project was green-lighted that will include adding a 50,000 square foot convention center ballroom — the largest in the state — and two new hotel towers connected to the Convention Center.  

This will be the sixth expansion since the Indiana Convention Center opened in 1972, and will increase the total of connected rooms to 6,100 rooms. There are also numerous other hotels within easy walking distance, allowing groups to comfortably stay near their meeting locations.

The two new hotels are expected to be Hilton-affiliated brands. The first has been proposed as a 38-story tower with multiple levels of retail and a rooftop bar. The second hotel tower would anchor the opposite corner of the block, across from Union Station on the west side of Illinois Street.

“The combination of what will be the state’s largest ballroom and two additional hotel towers connected by enclosed skywalk will transform our ability to secure major new events that have never been held in Indy,” said Leonard Hoops, president and CEO of Visit Indy. “It also gives us the capacity to better host multiple citywide conventions at the same time and help us retain nearly $300 million in annual convention and event business.”

The Indiana Convention Center currently offers three ballrooms totaling about 61,000 sq. ft. of function space, with the largest ballroom at 33,335 sq. ft. Hoops noted that since 2010, Visit Indy has been unable to bid on more than 200 conventions and events due to lack of hotel room inventory and/or ballroom space requirements. This expansion allows Visit Indy to re-engage these groups, which collectively could generate up to $1.1 billion in future economic impact for the region and state.

The budget for the expansion, estimated at $120 million, includes public infrastructure improvements and the construction of the new publicly-owned facility and connector.

The project timeline has not yet been finalized, but is expected to take approximately three years once all necessary agreements and legislative approvals have been obtained, making 2022 a reasonable estimate.  

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