Fox News (February 18, 2011)
The newly expanded Indiana Convention Center is open for business and the first convention is in town. More than 20,000 visitors from around the country and all over the world have come to Indianapolis for the Dealer Expo.
The $275 million expansion added 566,000 square feet. According to vendors, the extra space has made all the difference. Dealer Expo is hopping with all sorts of cool concepts, motorcycles new and old plus plenty of modified hogs including a 10 seat Harley. There's apparel and accessories, in every imaginable color and style and some things you've never seen before.
Expo's VP said the old digs were tight.
"Physically, we were a bit constrained by the old venue and RCA Dome next to it and a constricted set of hotels," said Danny Phillips.
Vendor Jeff Schwindt said the new space is much better. His Indy based air suspension systems depend on this show for up to 75% of their business.
"In the past, we'd get stuck in the hallway or somewhere else. With the expansion of the convention center, we're all out here. The aisles are bigger. It's a lot nicer set-up," he said.
Because of the new hall, there's now plenty of space to group products according to category.
"So, for an attending dealer who wants to buy, I've got my shopping list, and I'm going to look for tires, there's all the tires in one space, I'm going to look for apparel, all the leather jackets in one space. So that's what the venue has brought. That's going to create an exciting and better shopping experience for the attendees," Phillips said.
How long will it take the city to re-coup it's $275 million investment though?
"The retention of this group over the next five years will generate $100 million in economic impact, then you look at the Super Bowl which could not have been held in Indianapolis without this facility and the expansion with a price tag of $150 million in economic impact to the city. So with this and the Super Bowl, it's already paid off itself," said Convention Center Spokesman Gahl.
Dealer Expo is closed to the general public, but the golf convention is coming up at the end of the month. That's open to everyone. There's also next year, when the Super Bowl will come to town, "the NFL Experience" will reside at the Convention Center and it'll be open to everyone, too.
Indianapolis Star (February 18, 2011)
Bling Rockets (January 24, 2011)