State helps city lock up FFA convention until 2024

Indianapolis will host the National FFA Convention & Expo every year from 2016 to 2024 under an agreement to be announced Wednesday morning by state and local officials.

The state has agreed to provide FFA with $4.5 million in incentives—$500,000 per year—to help keep the event in Indianapolis for nine straight years, a source familiar with the agreement told IBJ. That amount was included in the state's most recent budget.

The annual FFA event attracted 64,000 visitors last year when it was held in Louisville and is expected to draw similar or larger crowds in Indianapolis.

The event is predicted to have a $36 million annual economic impact on the city, ranking it third among annual conventions hosted by Indianapolis. Only Gen Con ($57 million) and the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show ($55 million) are bigger.

As IBJ reported May 7, Indianapolis was already expected to host the event from 2016 to 2018 and from 2022 to 2024. FFA is set to wrap up a three-year stay in Louisville in October with its 88th annual convention.

FFA organizers said in May that they were dropping a contractual option to hold the event in Louisville from 2019 to 2021 and had begun negotiating with Indianapolis to take over those years.

"Over the last few years, our membership numbers have continued to increase, and as a result, attendance at the National FFA Convention & Expo has increased as well," the Indianapolis-based organization said in a written statement in May. "This has resulted in the need for more meeting room space and hotel rooms during the week."

Formerly known as Future Farmers of America, the FFA brings members from across the country to the convention to be educated on a range of topics, including science and agriculture. The event is well-known for attracting throngs of well-mannered teens wearing trademark blue corduroy jackets.

Indianapolis is no stranger to the convention. It hosted the event for the first time in 2006 and kept it six more years, until 2012. It was the city's largest annual convention during that seven-year stay.

The 2012 event in Indianapolis drew 56,176 attendees and used about 50,000 hotel room nights.

National FFA Advisor Steve Brown, Gov. Mike Pence and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard are scheduled to take part in Wednesday's announcement at the National FFA Center in Indianapolis.

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