Two years after crews began construction of the $25 million Terre Haute Convention Center, the city will celebrate Saturday with a grand opening event. Construction was essentially completed on the 43,000 square foot facility in March. City and Vigo County Capital Improvement Board officials are optimistic that the new site will serve as a catalyst to attract new businesses to downtown and visitors to the area.
“We thought if we could do something like Bloomington or some of these other towns in Indiana that brought their downtowns back with little stores, people would come back downtown,” the Vigo County chairman said. Capital Improvement Board, Jon Marvel. “Since we started this project downtown, a few small stores have opened. Once this thing takes off, we just hope it really starts to bloom.
A trade show will be held on Saturday for 30 local businesses to showcase their products and services.
The ballroom seats 500 to 600 people in a dinner setting, but even more in a theater-style arrangement. The center has already booked a variety of events, including weddings, exhibitions and conventions.
Last September, the Professional Fire Fighters Union of Indiana announced that it would host its biannual convention at the site in May 2023.
“These groups booked them for several years. We knew we wouldn’t have any conventions the day the building opened. But we have a lot of things that are already in the books,” Marvel said.
In addition to the convention center, the community will also see a new casino in the coming years. Churchill Downs Inc. obtained the gaming license.
Marvel says that when CDI came out on top of the four candidates, there was concern that a casino ballroom would compete with the convention center and take away potential customers.
“They were very generous with us and told us that they didn’t want to compete with us, that they wanted to complement [the convention center]Marvel said.
While the convention center is open, one high-profile feature is still ongoing – the Larry Bird Museum. Marvel says the pandemic has slowed the project, which is being developed by Ohio-based Hilferty and Associates. Additionally, details are still being negotiated with the NBA.
“There are so many things that we have to put in place before he can even display his rings or his trophies with the NBA, get the rights to display those things. So that slows us down,” Marvel said.
He hopes it can still open later this year.
The grand opening is Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is open to the public.
Editor’s note: In this weekend’s edition of Inside Indiana Business with Gerry Dick, Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett will discuss in more detail the convention center, casino project and other developments contributing to the transformation of the city.