NRA tourists laud convention center, say downtown Phoenix lacking

Phoenix Convention Center
Phoenix Convention Center

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — The Phoenix Convention Center impressed many visitors at this month’s National Rifle Association convention, but some attendees felt there wasn’t enough to do downtown. Tourists’ impressions from the NRA convention are important because the May 15-17 event was the largest gathering in the convention center’s history.  It was also an opportunity for Phoenix to showcase a $600 million center expansion, light rail, and a new hotel.

Several convention attendees said that they were impressed with the sleek convention center, which is within walking distance of major hotels.  “It’s one of the nicer ones that I have been in,” said Craig Dutton, who is based in Smyrna, Ga., and is an exhibitor for Glock Inc.

Las Vegas residents Michael Villegas and his wife, Lisa, say they were also wowed by the convention center. They only wished that there were more activity at night.  “It reminded me of what San Diego was like 20 years ago,” Villegas said.  While there are eateries and nightspots near the convention center, a few blocks away, it was tougher for the couple to find things to do.  Villegas said he and his wife frequently talked to orange-clad downtown ambassadors to get information about restaurants and that they had a good time.  They also attended a concert in a downtown park, Villegas said.

Downtown leaders say they received positive feedback from the NRA and have been asked to bid on the 2015 convention, said David Roderique, president and CEO of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership.  The business group helps market the neighborhood as an economic and tourist destination.  “Downtown does need a few more things to do, and that is something that we are working on,” Roderique said. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

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