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Massive CEDIA Expo returning to city after 5-year break

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Indianapolis convention bookers have landed a big fish that was in danger of slipping off the line because of a convention center space crunch.

The locally based Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association will bring its fall trade show back to Indianapolis in 2011 and 2012—making good on a promise to return after a $275 million expansion of the Indiana Convention Center.

CEDIA Expo left its hometown in 2005 because it had outgrown the center. The five-day residential electronics trade show attracted about 25,000 attendees who spent an estimated $27.4 million. It was the third-largest convention in Indianapolis that year.

Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association officials announced the group’s decision Wednesday morning, crediting the ongoing convention center expansion and construction of the Marriott Place hotel complex.

“CEDIA was one of our most coveted shows we hoped to bring back to Indianapolis … so this is a significant victory for our hospitality industry,” ICVA CEO Don Welsh said in the statement.

After the expansion, the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium will have 749,000 square feet of exhibit space, plus another 188,000 square feet of ballroom and meeting space and 267,800 square feet of so-called “pre-function” space.

CEDIA Expo used more than 440,000 square feet of exhibit space during this year’s show in Atlanta and expects to use 566,000 square feet in Indianapolis.

“The city of Indianapolis has been instrumental in the growth of our show and we are happy to bring our members back to one of the association’s core cities,” CEDIA CEO Utz Baldwin said in a prepared statement.

CEDIA originally had planned to return the trade show to Indianapolis in September 2010—the same month the convention center project is scheduled to be complete. But, two years ago, the association said its show had expanded so much after moving to Denver that even the larger center wouldn’t be able to accommodate it in 2010 or 2011. That growth has since slowed, however, making Indianapolis a viable option.

"In light of the recession, our exhibitors have been downsizing and sharing booth space," Marketing Director Jamie Antcliff told IBJ. "We did extensive research and we think Indianapolis is a great fit for us with the expansion."

CEDIA was one of two massive events that left Indianapolis after outgrowing the convention center. The other, the annual Performance Racing Industry trade show, has no plans to return.

But a group of local motorsports business advocates is putting on a competing event that begins Wednesday, and on Tuesday announced plans to keep the show in Indianapolis through 2015.

The International Motorsports Industry Show is expected to draw more than 10,000 attendees over two days. It sold out 572 available booths for the show and expected to double its convention center space to 200,000 square feet next year.

Chris Paulsen of locally based C&R Racing and Tom Weisenbach, executive director of the Indiana Motorsports Association, are co-founders of IMIS along with two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart and Jeff Stoops, CEO of Stoops Freightliner.

When it left Indianapolis in 2004, PRI attracted 30,000 attendees and used every available inch of the convention center.  Direct visitor spending was estimated at $27 million—a far cry from the $3.2 million officials expect the inaugural IMIS event to generate.

PRI officials initially promised to come back in 2011 if the convention center was enlarged, but reneged on that deal last year because the show is now too big for even the expanded convention center.

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  • Well...
    ...I hope that the new IMIS event puts a serious dent into PRI. The only reason PRI has "outgrown" Indy is because it is no longer a true motorsports show. My company has exhibited there for the past several years and they have really lost their focus. They let just about any company participate, regardless of whether that company has any connection at all to motorsports. Good luck to the organizers of IMIA.

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