Wednesday, June 22, 2011

ICVA - Seems More Money Wasn't The Answer After All

You all remember the logic dominoes that were set falling about two years ago -- the convention center has been enlarged and we added all these additional hotel rooms to the downtown inventory (all with the ever generous support of the taxpayers) so now we have to spend even more money on the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association (ICVA) to market that new space and new rooms.

Here's a reminder of the vast increases in taxpayer and private dollars that have gone into the ICVA in the last year and a half.  This is part of a report from the January 28, 2010, IBJ article by Scott Olson entitled "ICVA receives $5.4 million gift":
The Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association announced at its annual meeting Thursday afternoon that it has received a $5.4 million gift-its largest from a private donor.

The contribution, which will be used to promote the city's tourism and convention business, came from the Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation Inc.

Dean White is the founder of Merrillville-based White Lodging, the developer of the $425 million, 1,600-room Marriott Place hotel complex downtown. The flagship 1,000-room JW Marriott is expected to open in February 2011.

"It's fantastic news," ICVA Executive Director Don Welsh said. "With the funding that we have, and the great product that we have, basically any excuses not to be successful are gone."

The grant from the Whites is to be spent over the next three years and totals nearly half the ICVA's $13 million annual budget. In a typical year, the association receives about $700,000 in private contributions.

The Indianapolis Capital Improvement Board funds 70 percent of its budget. The CIB, which operates the city's Indiana Convention Center and professional sports venues, increased the ICVA's funding from $6.9 million to $9 million in 2010.
Thursday's announcement follows a pledge Mayor Greg Ballard made earlier this month to give $1.5 million to the ICVA from funds returned to the city by companies that failed to meet job-creation promises tied to tax breaks.
Those funds also will enable the ICVA to better market the city both as a tourism and convention destination. The recent windfall is welcomed by John Livengood, president of the Indiana Restaurant & Hospitality Association.
"That has been our priority, to make sure [the ICVA has] the money to market Indianapolis," he said.
The ICVA has argued that it needs additional money to attract more conventions to the city. A $275 million expansion of the convention center, set to be finished early next year, adds 420,000 square feet to the mix. Including Lucas Oil Stadium, the ICVA will have 1.2 million square feet of convention space, 65 percent more than it had in the convention center and RCA Dome.
I love that quote from now Chicago resident, Don Welsh - "With the funding that we have, and the great product that we have, basically any excuses not to be successful are gone."

Fast forward to today.  This item in the current IBJ again by Scott Olson, entitled "ICVA expects to fall short of 2011 room-night goal":
The Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association likely will fall far short of its aggressive goal of booking 725,000 hotel room nights this year for future conventions.

New ICVA CEO Leonard Hoops cautioned members of Marion County's Capital Improvement Board on Monday that, through April, the association is pacing at about 75 percent of its target.

“My goal is to get us back to where we were last year,” he said. “So I might as well fire that warning shot right now.”

ICVA sales staff met their goal in 2010 by booking 650,000 room nights for future conventions, but in doing so tapped most of their prospects. As of the end of April, ICVA had booked about 165,000 room nights.

“To get to that 650,000, the team worked very hard to close that out,” Hoops said, “and we started the year with nothing in the tank.”
You just cannot throw enough money at these guys.  And what's even better, there is nobody holding them accountable.


Anonymous said...

The money from the billionaire Dean White to ICVA sounds like a "bonus" to ICVA for its promotion of the need for the Dean White hotel, with the significant taxpayer contributions. Rich people get rich and stay rich by using other people's money.

Anonymous said...

Where is the ICVA Board in telling the new CEO of the ICVA that accepting defeat on room night goals 3 months into the new year is unacceptable?

It's complete bullshit!

Downtown Indy said...

Since we taxpayers 'gave' $48 million so they would build the hotel in the first place, I would classify this as a payback or a kickback.

Downtown Indy said...

"They" meaning the Whites.