INDIANAPOLIS - The president of the Capital Improvement Board in Indianapolis says a change to a bill involving the CIB was not unexpected. The House Ways and Means Committee Monday unanimously approved Senate Bill 7, which includes projects involving the Indiana Pacers and Indy Eleven. However, a provision that originally provided funding for the expansion of the Indiana Convention Center and the addition to two new hotels in downtown Indianapolis was removed. 

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Melina Kennedy says other funding sources for the $120 million project were always being considered.

"An effort by the CIB and the city to add more convention space and hotel space has a big, strong demand from some of our biggest convention customers, such as FFA, Gen Con and others," said Kennedy. "The expanded convention center portion to help accommodate those customers would be funded by the city, that has always been contemplated in that regard and the hotel portion would be private investment by those developing the hotel."

Kennedy says the CIB is appreciative of the committee's bipartisan, unanimous support for Senate Bill 7, which shows a recognition of the state level of the CIB's continued economic impact for the city and state. She says that impact totals more than $1 billion per year.

"That's a combination of the various facilities, the sporting industry and activities, but also the other major events that are at some of our large sporting venues that are not sporting-related," said Kennedy. "That's in addition to the convention business and this bill helps position the CIB to continue the long tradition of continuing to have such a significant economic impact on the state every year and into the future ahead."

Chris Gahl, vice president of Visit Indy, released a statement to Inside INdiana Business following the committee's vote:

We applaud the Ways and Means Committee for their vote of confidence toward ensuring key convention facilities can continue to serve as the economic engine for our region and our state. This legislation will help to build upon the progress and continued development of the last five decades, while we work to ensure our downtown hotel portfolio keeps pace with our growing conventions and furthering the planned expansion of our convention center for the first time in nearly a decade. This sort of forward thinking leadership is critical in retaining and growing our convention and sports business, while also keeping the title of USA Today’s ‘#1 Convention City in the U.S.’

Senate Bill 7 also provides a funding mechanism for a new soccer stadium that would be used by the Indy Eleven. It creates a "sports development area" to capture taxes that would be used cover construction costs for the facility. However, the committee removed a requirement that the Indy Eleven secure a Major League Soccer franchise before the stadium could be built. 

Our partners at WIBC report the full House could vote on the bill this week or next week. If the House approves the measure, it would return to the Senate where a final version would need to be approved before heading to Governor Eric Holcomb's desk.