CIB OKs $2.6M in carpet upgrades for convention center

The Capital Improvement Board of Marion County plans to spend about $2.6 million to replace all 370,000 square feet of carpeting at the Indiana Convention Center.

Members voted 8-1 Monday to fund the renovation in an effort to make the transition between the aging center and its new addition seamless. The 254,000-square-foot expansion in downtown Indianapolis is set to open next month.

The new carpeting should be installed by May and will replace floor coverings that are up to 14 years old.

Don Welsh, CEO of the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association, said the upgrade is integral to promoting the building to prospective clients whose convention needs don’t warrant use of the new space.

“It will bring parity to the two buildings,” he said. “I think this would be one of the most prudent investments you could make when you take into consideration the $1 billion [spent] between the two buildings.”

Welsh was referring to the $720 million price tag of Lucas Oil Stadium and the $275 million convention center addition. With the two facilities, the ICVA now will have 1.2 million square feet of convention space available to market.

CIB Executive Director Barney Levengood said some of the carpeting in the existing center is so worn that CIB staff avoids showing those parts of the building to potential clients.

CIB board member Michael McQuillen cast the lone dissenting vote.

“I don’t get the argument we’ll lose clients because they don’t want to be in the old space because it doesn’t have new carpet,” he said.

But fellow CIB board member Douglas Brown argued the carpeting will need to be replaced at some point, so “if we’re going to have to bite this bullet anyway, let’s go ahead and do it.”

CIB, which operates major city sports facilities as well as the convention center, budgeted $5.8 million for capital improvements this year.

The cash-strapped CIB continues to improve its finances by growing revenue and trimming expenses. Through October, the organization is $14.4 million ahead of budget.

Levengood said the carpeting would be bought through a state purchasing program to ensure CIB receives the most competitive price. CIB will reimburse the state for the expense, Levengood said.

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