Indianapolis voted “Best Convention City”

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Readers of USA Today Travel are calling Indianapolis the Best Convention City in the United States.

The voting criteria was based on affordability, ease travel around town, and location relative to hotels and restaurants.

Outside of a few hostile University of Illinois fans, almost everyone 24-Hour News 8 talked with Thursday wasn’t surprised Indianapolis took the top spot. The slate of events happening downtown this weekend only reinforces those results.

On a bright sunny day along the streets of downtown – not even cold temperatures could keep people from soaking in the scenery.

“It’s a walkable city. There’s a lot to see on your routes, you know there’s a lot of things to do and the layout’s nice,” said Gianni Leccisi, who was visiting from Colorado.

That layout of restaurants and hotels – all within a few steps of each other – is part of the reason hundreds, even thousands of people, flock to the city. It’s often for conventions.

“We always ranked near the top in meeting planners minds,” said Chris Gahl, Vice President for Marketing with Visit Indy. “This is really the first time that a major media outlet has canvassed visitors and consumers around the country to say ‘who do you think is best?’”

The answer, according to USA today readers, was Indy, beating out other major cities like Chicago and Minneapolis. Those two places are where Big Ten die-hards reside, but it’s the circle city where they’ve gathered this weekend.

“Edging them out helps us have a very strong marketing platform to say, ‘hey meeting planner, there’s a reason why we’re number one,’” said Gahl.

“You’ve got the tournament here. You’ve got all the hotels and all the restaurants and bars and you never have to leave downtown,” said Ben Blackmon, who was visiting from Baltimore, Ma. for the Big Ten Tournament. “You can just walk everywhere so it’s great.”

All that walking was also happening indoors Thursday as the Public Library Association packed the convention center for its annual conference.

“It’s not complicated, which is nice. Not a lot of hurdles getting folks here. The traffic’s been nice,” said Leccisi.

“This is a perfect example of a near picture perfect tourism weekend,” said Gahl.

To go with the Big Ten Tournament and the library conference, the convention center is also hosting the Indiana Comic-Con event starting Friday.

There are also five St. Patrick’s Day events happening downtown. Gahl estimates all of those totaled together will generate $25 million for the city.

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