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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Coming Soon: The New Indiana Convention Center

The difference a year makes at the 82nd National FFA Convention.

A year ago, standing in between the Indiana Convention Center (ICC) and the brand new Lucas Oil Stadium (LOS) was a downtown Indianapolis landmark on the verge of destruction -- but in the name of new construction. The RCA Dome was visibly under demolition and behind barricades along south Capitol Street last year as FFA members walked from different convention sites.

This time around, however, the Dome is gone and a rapidly advancing addition to the convention center is already well underway -- an improvement FFA members will see in completion at the 84th National FFA Convention in 2011.

With an anticipated completion date in December of 2010, ICC will be expanded to a whopping 1.23 million square feet -- or more than 28 acres under one roof. Currently, it offers just over 500,000 square feet of convention space to the FFA.

All of that area -- from the 400,000-square foot open area housing this year's Career Show and shopping mall to the many separate rooms housing events ranging from delegate meetings to the FFA Alumni Auction -- is used up by the folks in blue and gold for this week's convention. That space, of course, doesn't include the meeting rooms and other spaces used in downtown Indianapolis hotels as well as events at Conseco Fieldhouse (CF), LOS and the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

As for the Dome, the former home of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts came tumbling to the ground in December of 2008 thanks to a controlled demolition -- roughly two months after 2008's 81st National FFA Convention. Since then, work on the ICC site has been in fast forward.

FFA members transitioning between the ICC and CF (site of eight of the nine general sessions) or LOS (home of Wednesday night's Toby Keith concert and Saturday's prestigious American Degree Ceremony) will certainly notice the skeleton of Indianapolis' convention center upgrade taking shape.

But in just a year -- remember the difference it makes? -- that metal frame skeleton will be completely covered and the workers will be hustling to finish the details inside the new ICC, bringing Indianapolis' convention profile even higher.

So after four great years for FFA in Indy, FFA members still have more to look forward to in the coming years.

What more can you ask for?

~Geoffrey Miller, National FFA Convention Newsroom Staff


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