NewsLocal News / April 23, 2014

NRA Convention Expected To Mean Big Weekend For Indy

Sam Klemet
NRA Convention Expected To Mean Big Weekend For Indy

The National Rifle Association is hosting its annual conference this weekend in Indianapolis.

The event should draw big crowds downtown, and the city’s tourism group expects that to mean big returns for Indianapolis.

The city started courting the NRA to bring its convention to Indianapolis in 2003.  It took seven years, but in 2010, the organization agreed.

"It was the expansion of the Indiana Convention Center that initially attracted them and allowed them to say Indianapolis is physically big enough to host our sizeable convention," said Chris Gahl with Visit Indy.  "Had we not expanded the Indiana Convention Center, we would not have been able to host the NRA."

He says the convention is going to be the largest in the city this year and third largest in Indianapolis’ history.

"The NRA is slated to bring in an estimated 70,000 people from across the country," he said.  "They'll generate more than $55 million in economic impact."

"We know we will pick up a lot of earned media and publicity and buzz about Indianapolis as the host city and where we really enjoy that is to turn other planner's attention towards Indianapolis and have them say 'Wow.  If Indy can host a convention of this size, of this magnitude, certainly they can host our convention.'  So, a lot of good economic boosts, but then also marketing boosts because of the amount of national media that travel with the NRA."

But, the convention can sometimes spur protests and drum up controversy. Gahl says Indianapolis has reached out to past host cities on how to handle potential issues.

"Certainly we know that with a convention this size and with a lot of hot topics being addressed, that there most likely will be those who want to exercise their First and Second Amendment rights at the same time," said Gahl.  "So, the NRA makes room for them to voice their opinions.  And, that is something we know from talking to past host cities like Houston and Phoenix, that's something to be expected.  We certainly plan for that, but we expect a very safe and very friendly conference here."

The conference begins Friday and runs through Sunday at the convention center.