INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis is getting ready to host one of its biggest conventions ever, but tourism officials aren’t talking about it much.
The National Rifle Association meeting at the Indiana Convention Center April 25-27 is expected to draw tens of thousands of visitors.
No news release or official statement has been made about the meeting at the request of NRA officials, even though it’s only a few months away, Visit Indy spokesman Chris Gahl told the Indianapolis Business Journal for a story posted online Monday (http://bit.ly/1jp0qsB).
“Yes, we know the convention (could) be polarizing,” Gahl said. “We also know it will be the biggest convention we hold in 2014, drawing 65,000 to 70,000 visitors and with an economic impact of $55 million.”
Indianapolis hosts other gun shows, Gahl said, and NRA has strong security at its conventions.
“They are incredibly well organized,” Gahl said. “Their events have been held without incident for many decades.”
NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said the gun rights group tried to find an event to announce the selection of Indianapolis when the city was chosen four years ago but none ever materialized.
“We’re looking forward to a successful meeting in Indianapolis,” Arulanandam told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
The NRA is promoting the meeting online at http://nraam.org/ .
The meeting will draw 700 exhibitors selling a variety of firearms, as well as hunting, camping and other outdoor gear. The show also features speakers and other entertainment. Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was a featured speaker at last year’s show in Houston.
Gahl said the size of the meeting will help Indianapolis promote itself as a major convention site.
“This show requires a considerable setup and has a number of moving parts. It will demonstrate what we can do in terms of hosting a mega, city-wide show,” Gahl said. “This is the type of show that a lot of cities pursue. This is something we’re already touting with other meeting and convention planners.”
The second-largest meeting Indianapolis will host in 2014 is the GenCon gaming show, which is expected to draw 49,000 visitors and have an economic impact of $49 million.