updated: 3/7/2005 11:09:13 AM

Hoosier Hospitality Industry Wants Attention of Legislators

Gerry Dick, Inside INdiana Business

As uncertainty continues to swirl around funding for a new stadium for the Indianapolis Colts and a major expansion of the Indiana Convention Center, future convention business is at risk, according hospitality industry executives who are launching a campaign to get their voices heard.

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Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association Chief Executive Officer Bob Bedell says his organization is currently pursuing more than 250 pieces of business targeted for 2010 through 2014. "We don't need the money to build it (the convention center expansion) until 2008, but we need to have the funding commitment now," says Bedell, who fears delays will make it difficult to secure future business.

Funding for a new stadium was included in a measure that died last week at the Indiana Statehouse as House Democrats staged a walkout. Funding for the convention center expansion was not included in the bill. Key legislators have pledged to find a home for the funding measure, but there is concern in the hospitality industry that delays will damage efforts aimed at keeping Indianapolis as a national player in the convention business. Bedell makes it clear the stadium and convention center expansion are linked. "It's been one facility, a stadium and a convention center connected, since 1984, and that's given us a very unique position in the national marketplace," says Bedell.

City and hospitality industry officials have said the expansion, which would double the meeting space at the Indiana Convention Center, would create nearly 3,000 jobs and generate $165 million in annual economic impact. A study also suggests the expansion would drive the addition of 800-1,000 rooms in a new or expanded downtown hotel.

Source: Inside INdiana Business

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