Sebastian and I have been talking about how we rank Indianapolis on our list of host cities. Apparently, one man in the Smith & Wesson booth told a reporter that the city has the “smell of freedom.” Um, I’ll assume he’s not talking about the smell coming out of the grates near one corner of our hotel’s property because that’s sewage, not freedom.
Regardless of the one area that requires holding your breath for a bit as you walk by, Indy has been a pretty decent city for the convention. There are tons of hotels in walking distance, and the skywalk system meant that rain on Friday wasn’t an issue at all. However, the prices for food and beverage – mainly beverage – have been pretty outrageous. Every bar we’ve passed or been in around here has crappy beers for $5+ per glass. However, the food has been consistently excellent. We haven’t had one mediocre meal here.
I didn’t go between official events at the convention center and any other location beyond the JW Marriott, which is connected to the convention center, so I don’t know how the walk compared for those who did attend the multiple events. Generally, I really hate that set up, so it’s probably a good thing for my perception of the city that I didn’t attend those other events.
Other than Claddagh Irish Pub that put up a big sign telling gun owners who carry that they weren’t welcome, every other place had chalkboards and other signs posted welcoming NRA members. And based on how many people we saw sporting NRA & gun-related apparel, those welcoming joints were doing pretty well.
While I’ve had a pretty decent time in Indy, I would put it in the middle of the list of decent host cities. Considering that, according to Sandy Froman, NRA hasn’t held a convention here since 1976, it’s done very well in terms of getting people through the doors and onto the show floor. There’s a ton of parking around the area and many great places to stay.
Indy has been far better than cities like Charlotte, NC (too expensive), Pittsburgh, PA (terrible traffic management) and Louisville, KY (too spread out), but not quite as good as Phoenix, AZ (great layout) and Houston, TX (fantastic facilities). One big drawback to Indy that was also an issue in St. Louis is the presence of overly aggressive panhandlers. One person I know here posted on Facebook about the issue, and also included that he wasn’t so sure the person was that hard up when they pulled out a cell phone and started chatting up someone.
Overall, it was a good annual meeting. I hope that the numbers we hear later this morning show that others thought the same thing.