The mayor of Evansville has declared his city is back in the convention business. Lloyd Winnecke’s remarks on Inside INdiana Business come on the heels of Tuesday’s ribbon cutting at the $61 million Double Tree Hilton hotel. The long-awaited moment will fill a convention center hotel gap that dates back seven years to when the Executive Inn was demolished to clear the way for the Ford Center. Winnecke believes the hotel’s entry could "open the flood gates" for the convention and sporting event business in Indiana’s third-largest city.
Winnecke says the hotel, coupled with high-profile projects like the new land-based Tropicana Casino, the multi-institutional medical campus led by Indiana University and the recent announcement of a $25 million investment to redevelop Evansville’s tallest building, 420 Main, are giving people reason to see the city "through a different lens."
The hotel and other positive developments downtown have given the city and local convention officials a renewed sense of confidence to pursue some big targets. Winnecke says one is a "play-in" game of the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship tournament. "We feel it’s a tall hill to climb, but we have a great facility in the Ford Center. The NCAA has had the Division II Elite 8 there twice, so we know the NCAA likes our facility a great deal. We think with the addition of the Doubletree convention hotel and the planned construction of the new Hyatt Place hotel downtown, we have a real shot at getting this," Winnecke said.
Winnecke will join hotel, city and regional officials Tuesday at 10 a.m. CT for the ribbon cutting ceremony.