Indianapolis’ Capital Improvement Board of Managers (CIB) unanimously approved moving forward with negotiations in developing a 300,000-square-foot expansion to the Indiana Convention Center and two Hilton-branded convention hotels—600 rooms and 800 rooms—on the site of Pan Am Plaza.

The Indiana Convention Center expansion and two hotels are slated for a potential 2022 opening.

According to The Indy Channel, and ABC-affiliated television station, in addition to the Indiana Convention Center expansion, the two-story improvement also includes the following upgrades:

  • A 50,000-square-foot ballroom
  • Additional meeting rooms
  • Full kitchen facility
  • Connection to current convention center through walkway
  • Two new hotels—would add about 1,400 rooms to Indy’s hotel inventory.

The new hotel space will also allow Visit Indy to bid on more than 200 conventions that were previously unavailable because of hotel space, the release from the CIB stated.

City event planners have cited the posed new ballroom as a top priority among conventions.

Visit Indy has been discussing the need for another convention center expansion since 2016, according to news outlet IndyStar. The convention center opened in 1972 and has undergone an expansion in each decade since, most recently a $275 million addition completed in 2011.

That's the same year that the 1,000-room J.W. Marriott opened, giving the city more than 4,000 hotel rooms that are connected by skywalks and tunnels.

A Brief History of the Proposed Convention Center Expansion

According to IndyStar, Kite Realty Group's proposal to build more than 1,400 Hilton-branded hotel rooms atop the Pan Am Plaza beat two other undisclosed pitches that were submitted in March 2018. The hotel project includes a 38-story tower with 814 rooms and a smaller building with 600 rooms.

The budget for the expansion is estimated at $120 million, which doesn't include the subsidization of the two hotels. IndyStar reported that Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett's office is laying the groundwork for a $120 million investment via tax-increment financing that would mostly pay for infrastructure, said Thomas Cook, the mayor's chief of staff. That would require City-County Council approval in 2019.

Gen Con Announces Deal Extension Through 2023

Gen Con, the nation's largest tabletop gaming convention, which draws more than 60,000 people during its annual summer convention in Indianapolis, has considered leaving Indianapolis in the past, IndyStar noted.

Gen Con announced Friday, October 19, 2018, that the convention is extending its deal with the city through 2023 because of Kite's development plan. If all goes according to plan, Kite would reach a project agreement with the CIB within the next year and complete construction three years after that.

Now one of the largest convention centers in America, the Indiana Convention Center is connected by skywalks to more hotel rooms than any other city in the nation.

Also linked to the center is a four-story urban shopping mall, surrounded by more than 200 restaurants and clubs, sports venues, and a 10-block state park that features museums, green space and a canal walk.

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