Literally days after the city of Indianapolis proved to the world that a mid-size Midwestern city like Indy could professionally host a world-class event like Super Bowl XLVI, a delegation of RV industry people will be visiting the Hoosier State capitol next week (Feb. 13-17) to gather information regarding a possible relocation from Louisville, Ky., of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) National RV Trade Show, RVBUSINESS.com has learned.
While virtually no one would agree to comment on the upcoming industry junket to Indy, people close to the situation say it’s a natural follow-through from statements issued late last year by the leadership of both RVIA and the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) in which both confirmed that an adhoc panel of industry people had been formed to investigate possible alternative convention sites and that neither organization was averse to considering alternative locations for their respective national shows.
RVIA for years has held its national convention at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, while RVDA’s Con/Expo has long been in Las Vegas.
It’s a logical site, some are arguing, for a change of pace that might reinvigorate the industry and its approach to national shows during a post-recessionary era when attendance has been flat for both organizations’ key annual events. Only Elkhart County’s Annual RV Open House Week, a rather informal new September industry gathering, seems to have gained any momentum over the past two years.
While Indy partisans clearly want the national show at an earlier date – more closely aligned with the Open House in September or October – they also think that Indianapolis, because of its proximity to northern Indiana’s RV-building center of Elkhart County and its exemplary convention facilities, may be the logical answer.
The facility in question is the Indiana Convention Center, about which the convention center’s website says this:
“Thanks to a dramatic 2010 expansion, the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium (which are joined by a climate-controlled walkway) now offer a combined 745,000 square feet of exhibit space (nearly doubling the convention center’s previous size), making the linked structures one of the nation’s largest convention facilities.
“By itself, the Indiana Convention Center offers 566,000 square feet of exhibit space, plus 83 meeting and ballroom spaces (including the Sagamore Ballroom–which, at 33,000 square feet, qualifies as the Midwest’s largest ballroom). The center is connected by skywalks to 4,719 hotel rooms — more than any other convention center in the nation.
“Lucas Oil Stadium — home, as if we needed to tell you, of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts — is a multi-use, all-weather venue that (independent of the Indiana Convention Center) offers 179,000 square feet of exhibit space. Seating 63,000 for games, concerts and meetings, the stadium also includes 12 meeting rooms and a retractable roof.”
Only time will tell what becomes of this latest twist in the industry’s search for a new approach to its national shows, and the simple fact that a delegation is visiting Indianapolis, we’re told, does not mean that any decisions on this matter are particularly close at hand.
In fact, insiders indicate, Louisville and other cities are still in the mix and 2013 is the absolute soonest that any move to a new locale like Indianapolis could be made. “This is just the first step in the process,” said one individual, who asked that his name not be used.