FFA Convention leaving Louisville
A spokesperson tells WDRB News that the FFA board made the decision because of a lack of hotel and meeting space in Louisville.
Thursday, May 7th 2015, 11:35 am EDT by
Thursday, May 7th 2015, 4:29 pm EDT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Blue Jackets are leaving Louisville, and they're taking their money with them.
The FFA convention has met off and on in Louisville since 1999, but this will be the last year for the foreseeable future. The organization's board has decided not to return.
The FFA is one of Louisville's biggest conventions, attracting more than 60,000 visitors.
And those blue jackets spend lots of green, pumping some $40 million into the economy.
But the FFA now says Louisville does not have enough hotel and meeting space to suit the convention's growing needs.
“After last year, the board did an evaluation to see if the facilities would meet the need. After that evaluation and a thorough assessment, they made the decision that those facilities, as well as having all those hotels in a 40-mile radius just did not suit the current needs for the organization,” said FFA spokesperson Kristy Meyer.
“It'll be a huge miss for our hotels and our attractions,” Karen Williams, president and CEO of the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Williams says the problem is not just the number of hotel rooms, but a shortage of lower-priced, double-occupancy rooms and, in particular, the lack of a new hotel near the main gate of the Kentucky Expo Center.
“We need another full-service convention hotel at Gate 1. I know the Fair Board knows that. I know they're trying to get it,” said Williams.
David Beck of the Kentucky Farm Bureau helped lure the FFA to Louisville and served on the host committee.
“We did the best job we could, but it's a growing convention. And we have to constantly look at, in the business community, what can we do to attract and maintain and service those type of activities,” he said.
No one from the Fair Board was available for comment.
Both Beck and Williams believe Louisville can make a serious bid to bring the FFA back in the future.
“I would be remiss if I didn't say that we have greatly enjoyed our time in Louisville,” said Meyer.
The FFA is in negotiations to hold the convention in Indianapolis through 2024.
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