Destinations Magazine - May/June 2018 - 17

BOOMING TIMES
FOR THE
BOURBON CITY
Fueled by a convention center expansion, Louisville and many of its attractions
are upgrading ahead of ABA's 2019 Annual Meeting & Marketplace

BY IAN P. MURPHY

T

wo short years ago, ABA concluded
a successful Annual Meeting &
Marketplace in Louisville, Ky.
Louisville made quite an impression
on ABA during Marketplace, as well as
upon the industry's operators, meeting
planners, and tourists. And since the 2016
Marketplace, the destination's downtown
has been reignited with the development
of hotels, a new convention center, and
revamped attractions, making Louisville
even more of a world-class destination
than before.
"We look forward to bringing our
ABA Annual Meeting & Marketplace to
Louisville in 2019," ABA President & CEO
Peter Pantuso, CTIS, said in announcing
a unanimous board decision to return to
Louisville. "Our members were wowed
by the hospitality, quality attractions, and
culinary delights of Louisville when we
visited, and we can't wait to see what they
have in store for us in 2019."
What's in store? A spate of new hotels,
dining options, and tourist destinations,
including numerous ways to celebrate the

town's uniquely American spirit (bourbon). Louisville is one of the friendliest
cities in America, as deemed by Travel
+ Leisure, and will welcome ABA's 2019
Marketplace attendees Jan. 26-29 as
one of the first groups to experience the
reignited city.

Meeting Demand

Much of Louisville's new development
has been spurred by a $200 million
expansion and renovation to the Kentucky
International Convention Center (KICC),
home of ABA's 2019 Marketplace. Set for
completion in August 2018, the new KICC
will be a LEED-certified facility that's competitive with the nation's leading meeting
and convention centers.
By the time Marketplace kicks off, the
facility will boast 200,125 square feet
of exhibit space, a 40,000-square-foot,
column-free ballroom with LED walls,
52 meeting rooms, and a 175-seat conference theater. The renovation will offer
showgoers streamlined traffic patterns,
high-capacity Wi-Fi, digital signage, and

a rooftop canopy that's easy to spot from
blocks away.
KICC is less than a day's drive for about
two-thirds of the U.S. population, and
within easy walking distance to many of
Louisville's major attractions. "Visitors can
walk to the Louisville Slugger Museum &
Factory, the Muhammad Ali Center, the
Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, and
the Frazier History Museum, just to name
a few," says Saundra Robertson, CTIS,
tourism sales manager at the Louisville
Convention & Visitors Bureau.

New and Improved

With eight new hotels opening in 2018, the
number of available downtown rooms will
jump almost 50 percent to 6,316. One of the
newest properties is the Omni Downtown
Louisville-a $300 million, four-diamond
property and one of the headquarters of the
2019 Marketplace.
Opened in March, the Omni Downtown
Louisville's interiors give a nod to Derby
City's racing pedigree and distilling history,
and it is steps from KICC, the Fourth
MAY-JUNE 2018

\ DESTINATIONS 17



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