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Overlapping downtown events give hotels a boost

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The annual Fire Department Instructors Conference is one of the largest conventions hosted by the city of Indianapolis and typically provides a sizable boost for downtown hoteliers.

But during this year's event, hotel rooms in the city will be even scarcer, and pricier, than usual, particularly toward the end of the week. That’s because FDIC overlaps with another large downtown event, the Race for the Cure, on Saturday.

“This one happens to clip Race for a Cure by a day,” said Chris Gahl, spokesman for the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association. “There is that overlap, so hotel rates downtown will be prime.”

Billed as the world’s largest firefighter training conference and trade show, FDIC has hosted its annual convention in Indianapolis since 1995. This year’s event runs Monday through Saturday and is expected to draw nearly 30,000 firefighters from across the country, generating an economic impact of $28 million.

Race for the Cure, the annual downtown event benefiting the Indianapolis affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, is expected to draw 15,000 to 20,000 participants for the 5-kilometer race and 1-mile family walk.

Komen participants who managed to book rooms for Friday night, combined with the already strong demand from FDIC, are helping to push prices for any remaining rooms above $300 a night, according to hoteliers.

The 573-room Westin Indianapolis on South Capital Avenue has been sold out for weeks, said its general manager, Dale McCarty.

“It sells out every year,” he said. But between [FDIC and Race for the Cure], the demand is incredibly strong.”

The same goes for the nearby Indianapolis Marriott Downtown on West Maryland Street, which has 622 rooms. They’re booked the next six days, General Manager Phil Ray said.

“There are just very few rooms available downtown, so you’re seeing a push out into the suburbs and to the airport,” Ray said.

Race for the Cure participants wanting to arrive downtown the night before might have better luck if they book two nights and stay until Sunday, because they may be able to get a cheaper rate by adding the additional night, Ray said.

“But if you’re coming in for that one night,” he said, “you’re going to pay a premium.”

Race for the Cure events will be held on Saturday at Military Park, with the 5K run starting at 9 a.m. and the one-mile walk following 45 minutes later.

FDIC exhibitors, meanwhile, will command all of the 745,000 square feet of combined space inside the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium, where the newest firetrucks and emergency response vehicles will be on display.

“It’s a very visual convention,” Gahl said. “Along with National FFA and Gen Con, it’s probably the most visible convention the city hosts.”

The yearly FDIC party hosted by Indianapolis Professional Firefighters Local 416 will be held on a portion of Georgia Street Friday evening instead of its typical site, the firefighters’ union hall on Massachusetts Avenue. The party usually is attended by more than 20,000 firefighters.

Wayne Smith, president of the union, said it chose the location because of the “newness” of the thoroughfare. The union usually puts up tents near its hall to accommodate the flood of visitors, but won’t be doing that this year on Georgia Street.

“It’s all about the weather for us,” he said.

The FDIC convention wraps up at noon on Saturday.
 

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  1. A Tilted Kilt at a water park themed hotel? Who planned that one? I guess the Dad's need something to do while the kids are on the water slides.

  2. Don't come down on the fair for offering drinks. This is a craft and certainly one that belongs in agriculture due to ingredients. And for those worrying about how much you can drink. I'm sure it's more to do with liability than anything else. They don't want people suing for being over served. If you want a buzz, do a little pre-drinking before you go.

  3. I don't drink but go into this "controlled area" so my friend can drink. They have their 3 drink limit and then I give my friend my 3 drink limit. How is the fair going to control this very likely situation????

  4. I feel the conditions of the alcohol sales are a bit heavy handed, but you need to realize this is the first year in quite some time that beer & wine will be sold at the fair. They're starting off slowly to get a gauge on how it will perform this year - I would assume if everything goes fine that they relax some of the limits in the next year or couple of years. That said, I think requiring the consumption of alcohol to only occur in the beer tent is a bit much. That is going to be an awkward situation for those with minors - "Honey, I'm getting a beer... Ok, sure go ahead... Alright see you in just a min- half an hour."

  5. This might be an effort on the part of the State Fair Board to manage the risk until they get a better feel for it. However, the blanket notion that alcohol should not be served at "family oriented" events is perhaps an oversimplification. and not too realistic. For 15 years, I was a volunteer at the Indianapolis Air Show, which was as family oriented an event as it gets. We sold beer donated by Monarch Beverage Company and served by licensed and trained employees of United Package Liquors who were unpaid volunteers. And where did that money go? To central Indiana children's charities, including Riley Hospital for Children! It's all about managing the risk.

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