Tourism In Delaware County IN comes right down Interstate 69

By Rick Yencer

MUNCIE, INDIANA  (NEWS) - Summer attractions in the community were ready promote their shows this month as government leadership talked about an increase in tourism dollars last year.

With electric powered jets taking off Saturday at the Academy of Model Aeronautics, and Asics Munciana preparing for its yearly tournament on May 31, literally thousands of visitors will come to Muncie, stay in hotel rooms and eat in restaurants that generate millions of dollars in revenue for the Muncie Visitors Bureau and Horizon Convention Center.

Visitor and convention officials reported to the government authority last week on rising income and the anticipation of even more tourism with a new Courtyard by Marriott coming to downtown Muncie to support the convention center.

James Mansfield, longtime visitors bureau director, told officials at a convention center gathering showcasing attractions that revenue in 2013 went up by 11 percent while tourism conservative brings $200 million yearly to the community.

That's a good measure, given Muncie stands in the shadow of gaming giant Centaur that operates Hoosier Park and Casino in Anderson, and Klipsch Music Center in Noblesville that has the lock of the biggest summer concerts between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne.

And it's even harder to compete with Indianapolis in the month of May with the Indianapolis 500 and last Saturday Indy's Grand Prix event.

But its's not summer attractions at Yorktown Sports Park, the Muncie Sportsplex or even the AMA and Muncie Dragway near Albany that brings the most visitors.

Ball State University singularly is responsible for much of the visitor traffic with its athletic, entertainment and academic programs.

Even in the summer, Ball State hosts only the largest music summer camps in the country that brings thousands to the community.

Then comes AMA that has a handful of events including the Extreme Flight Championship to Delaware County on June 14.

And another huge summer event is the Ironman Triathlons on July 12 that brings thousands of athletes and their followers.

Mansfield mentioned only the summer music camp event, but Ball State has sport and cheerleading camps besides incoming freshmen and their parents bringing hundreds of thousands of tourism dollars.

Even crowds at the Muncie Dragway swell to over 500 any Saturday between now and the Labor Day weekend. And many of the regional competitors stay for an overnight visit.

Joanne McKinney, longtime director of the convention center, talked about the resurgence of business with the new Mariott starting construction this summer and ready in 2015.

After the old Roberts Hotel closed a decade ago, the convention center was reduced to a regional if not a local venue without a full service hotel, And the convention center still receives every penny of a one percent food and beverage tax that averages about $2 million a year for the operation.

While other venues like Minnestrista Cultural Center, Cornerstone Center for the Arts and even the Delaware Fairgrounds have other revenue streams, there are restaurant and bar owners who still want to see that money spread around in the community.

A new venue that has been a favorite of water enthusiasts for years is the new $2 million beach and bathhouse at Prairie Creek reservoir near Selma.

That half a century water supply for the community always has hundreds of campers, sail boat and pontoon owners using it, and with the new accessible beach and bathhouse, local government anticipates even more visitors with the nearest reservoirs like Summit Lake, Salamonia, Geist, Morse and Mississinewa about an hour away.

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