City eyeing big convention year, topped by five major ones

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Indiana Convention Center (IBJ file photo)

The upcoming year is set to be a major one for tourism in Indianapolis, with big events including the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials, NBA All-Star Weekend and multiple Taylor Swift arena concerts.

The NBA All-Star Weekend is expected to lure 125,000 visitors and generate at least $320 million for the central Indiana economy when it takes place Feb. 16-18, while the June 15-23 swim trials could bring in another 35,000 spectators.

The three shows planned by Swift at Lucas Oil Stadium on Nov. 1-3 could have a local economic impact topping $100 million, according to estimates from economists.

Those sports and concert events are the gravy on top for Visit Indy, which is set to welcome more than 240 conventions and events to the Indiana Convention Center throughout 2024. Those events, according to data from late November, will give a projected $661 million jolt to the Indianapolis economy and bring in more than 1 million visitors.

The numbers are tracking closely with 2021 and 2022, as the city booked 250 events and 238 events through the same date those years, respectively.

Visit Indy told IBJ the city is tracking to have more than 550 conventions, meeting and events in 2024, with many expected to be booked closer to their respective dates.

Here’s a look at the biggest conventions set to come to the Circle City in 2024, in order of anticipated economic impact, along with their expected attendance.

rop_gencon_entrance_bp450.jpgGen Con, 70,000 attendees ($80.2 million in economic impact)

The city’s largest annual convention, Gen Con re-upped its contract with Indianapolis earlier this year to run through 2032. The event is a four-day gaming extravaganza that takes up the entirety of the Indiana Convention Center, with numerous other activities at Lucas Oil Stadium. The 2024 event is slated for Aug. 1-4.

Performance Racing Industry trade show, 67,500 ($62.9 million)

The PRI show, held every December, brings together thousands who work in racing and motorsports. Like Gen Con, it takes over the entire convention center and stadium. It’s scheduled for Dec. 12-14.

National Eucharistic Conference, 100,000 ($41.6 million)

The first event of its kind in 80 years—and the first time it will have been held in Indianapolis—this gathering is expected to draw tens of thousands of Catholics to Indianapolis, including church leaders from across North America. It will take over the full convention center and likely involve numerous parts of downtown, including several churches. The conference will take place July 17-21.

National FFA Convention & Expo, 70,000 ($40.3 million)

Now in its 97th year, National FFA is expecting to have near-record attendance for 2024 when the familiar blue jackets return to downtown Indianapolis. The FFA is set to continue convening in the city through at least 2033, and will receive $500,000 in state incentives annually through at least 2031 to pay for convention-related expenses. The convention will run Oct. 23-26.

FDIC International, 35,000 ($35 million)

Fire trucks on the floor of Lucas Oil Stadium? It’s been happening for years when the city welcomes tens of thousands of firefighters and fire department instructors in for their annual convention. And it will keep happening for the foreseeable future, as FDIC has extended its contract with the city as part of a yet-undisclosed term. Firefighting personnel will be in town April 15-20.

Honorable mentions

— Work Truck Show and Green Truck Summit, 15,000 ($17.9 million), March 5-8

— Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting, 16,000 ($17.3 million), June 9-12

— Church of God International General Assembly, 12,000 ($16.3 million), July 8-12

— Drum Corps International World Championships, 30,000 ($16.1 million), Aug. 8-10

— Bands of America Grand Nationals, 40,000 ($15.3 million), Nov. 11-16

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7 thoughts on “City eyeing big convention year, topped by five major ones

  1. Work on making downtown nicer destination for everyone. Then big spending spending conventions will come here too. Convention business is fine to an extent. The spending mostly reflects hotel and restaurant revenues. Why don’t we get conventions related to our major industries, plant, animal, and human health sciences, for example. We lack the downtown amenities expected by folks who can afford to go anywhere. For starters, fix the streets and sidewalks and plant trees. Figure out how to attract better streetfront retail, make city market a foodie destination with the charm of an authentic market… Out of towers can enjoy these things but more importantly, so can area residents, many of whom have little interest in coming downtown if it’s not “game day.” Enough has been spent already on “game day” infrastructure. When can we get decent everyday infrastructure for everyone. Indy can we get some leadership who can think our side for the big boxes (stadiums, convention center, mega-hotels…)? Please?

    1. All good points made but one can’t ignore the success in the conventions that are currently here and the new ones that Indy has attracted to start coming once the new Hilton Signia is built. I have no issue with fixing Indy up even more and making it look attractive downtown but I dont think we need to copy off Nashville or another city. We should look unique to Indy. When people come to visit they need to leave knowing they were in Indy and not another cookie cut version of the typical downtown in any US city. That would mean Indy would continue to look generic with no soul or character.

    2. making the road better and more importantly sidewalks would have a huge impact on overall perception of the city. If we could get the cultural trail level sidewalks on all streets within the mile downtown that would be wonderful!

  2. Let’s decir downtown to make it more festive and appealing through .
    Architecture, lights, and bright color exterior painting.

    Let’s also add exhibits near the convention center similar to that of
    downtown Nashville.

    Let’s make downtown Indianapolis more festive!!

  3. When people attend conventions, they expect good restaurants…which we have. Shopping means a drive up to the fashion mall because Circle Center was allowed to crumble. Such a shame

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