The annual convention of the National FFA Organization won’t be returning to Louisville for a three-year run from 2019-2021, the Kentucky State Fair Board has been told by the Indianapolis-based organization. The convention has been Louisville’s most lucrative piece of tourism-related business, annually attracting about 60,000 visitors and pumping an estimated $40 million into the local economy. This decision may open the door for Indianapolis to grab the convention permanently.
The FFA national board decided on Monday not to return to Louisville and, instead, is negotiating to keep its annual meeting in the Hoosier capital. According to Linda Edwards, of the Kentucky International Convention Center, the loss of the convention for the three years starting in 2019 is a major setback for the local convention and tourism industry. She said the fair board is awaiting formal notice from the FFA on why the organization decided not to return to Louisville.
Ted McKinney, head of the Indiana Department of Agriculture and one of the principal organizers who was responsible for bringing the convention and the national FFA Center to Indianapolis, told HAT he is hoping to keep the convention in the Circle City, “This was part of our original strategy to begin with. We will get it back 2016-18 and hopefully beyond that.” While the convention was in Indianapolis, FFA officials praised the city’s newly expanded convention center, Lucas Oil Stadium, and Bankers Life Field House. Many FFA activities also took place at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, which now boasts an upgraded Coliseum.