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Indiana: Fort Wayne schools future leaders

Courtesy Visit Fort Wayne

Indiana’s second-largest city, home to Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) and the University of St. Francis, is about equidistant from Chicago, Cincinnati and Detroit.

IPFW turns out professionals through its hospitality program. The 151-room Memorial Coliseum Holiday Inn IPFW, on the edge of the school’s campus and across from the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, doubles as a classroom for IPFW hospitality students.

“It’s raising the future leaders in the convention and meetings industry,” said Kristen Guthrie, marketing manager for Visit Fort Wayne, the marketing organization for Fort Wayne and Allen County.

In downtown Fort Wayne, the big news for meeting planners is the addition of the 250-room, full-service Courtyard by Marriott Fort Wayne Downtown. The property’s 6,000 square feet of meeting space includes the 3,969-square-foot Legacy Ballroom.

“It’s a great addition to downtown,” said Guthrie.

It’s also a great addition to the Grand Wayne Convention Center, which is connected to the recently renovated 246-room Hilton Fort Wayne.

The center’s 225,000 square feet of flexible space includes a 50,000-square-foot dividable convention hall, two ballrooms and 18 meeting rooms.

Indiana’s second-largest convention facility, the Grand Wayne has some grand features, such as an indoor-outdoor waterfall and 30-foot-high windows. “It’s an exceptional facility,” Guthrie said.

The complex is across the street from Parkview Field, home field of the Tin Caps, a minor league baseball team.

“Groups can go across the street from the center for afternoon meetings and then see a game,” Guthrie said. “It’s very cool.” Meetings can also use the ballpark’s 11,000 square feet of indoor event space.

The Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, which holds 13,000, is another major venue for sports, as well as concerts. It also has 15 event spaces, including the Expo I, II and III areas; in total, they provide 108,000 square feet for trade shows, religious gatherings, banquets and exhibitions.

The Gold Wing Road Riders Association recently announced it would hold the 2012 Wing Ding, its annual convention, which attracts up to 10,000, at the coliseum next July. It’s likely the group will use the coliseum’s recently renovated rooftop lounge and attached outdoor deck.