Indianapolis Business Journal

Since the JW Marriott and the Indiana Convention Center expansion opened in 2011, the number of hotel rooms in Indianapolis has declined 4.5 percent, prompting some of the city’s biggest tourism clients and corporate citizens to call for an expedited reversal of the trend.

According to Visit Indy, the city has 1,043 fewer hotel rooms here than it did just five years ago — essentially wiping out the gains made when the JW opened with its 1,005 rooms.

“It’s stunning,” said Indianapolis-based meeting planner Debbie Locklear. “Where have they all gone?”

The drop has organizers of Gen Con, the city’s biggest convention, and the NCAA, one of Indianapolis’ highest-profile downtown residents, among those pleading for more hotel rooms.

Although Visit Indy and the city’s Capital Improvement Board began developing a tourism master plan last month to guide the city through 2025, the issue’s growing urgency has some calling for quicker action. The master plan’s studies on the city’s hotel-room and convention-center-space needs are set to be complete next year.

Gen Con organizers were especially boisterous about the dearth of hotel rooms after their annual event—which drew more than 60,000 people to the city for four days early this month.

The hotel-room losses were due in several cases to redevelopment, local hospitality experts said. The 278-room University Place closed in 2012 when IUPUI converted the space. The 164-room Motel 6 Speedway gave way to the town’s redevelopment plans in 2013. And the Sheraton Indianapolis Hotel at Keystone Crossing was downsized by 165 rooms in 2011 to make way for apartments.

In all, at least 1,060 hotel rooms have been cut since 2011.