Welcome to Fort Wayne Convention Delegates!
I’ve been a long-time advocate for giving regions of the state opportunities to bid for hosting the state convention during non-Presidential years. It’s even more exciting to me that just under 24 hours from now delegates can start picking up their credentials for the state convention in downtown Fort Wayne!
Since you all are coming up for a visit I thought I’d offer a tour of the surroundings as well as information about the upcoming event. The convention itself is going to be in the Grand Wayne Center, which is directly adjacent to the Hilton and across the street from the downtown Courtyard by Marriott. I understand from the Fort Wayne Convention and Visitors Bureau, better known as Visit Fort Wayne, that some delegates will be housed in the Hotel Fort Wayne, just north of the downtown area.
For those staying downtown, just park your car at your hotel and don’t worry about it until you’re ready to check out. Pretty much anything you’re going to need to access is in walking distance. If you’re staying at Hotel Fort Wayne or have alternative lodging arraignments you’re probably going to want to stay at the garage attached to the Grand Wayne Center, which is easily accessible from Clinton Street (U.S. 27).
This convention is going to keep delegates busier than normal over the two day convention, but there are still going to be opportunities to get out and around Fort Wayne. Once the main program is over Friday night there is going to be a huge event across the street at Parkview Field that you’ll want to be sure to check out. Many of the receptions that are a traditional staple of the Friday evening of the convention are going to be in the suite level of the ballpark during the program.
After the program there is a block party hosted by Fort Wayne City Councilman Mitch Harper and the Indiana Federation of Young Republicans on Harrison Street just a block north of the Courtyard hotel and two blocks north of the Grand Wayne Center. Their event is going to feature Indiana craft beers among other amenities and should be worth checking out.
Saturday morning for people who want to get an early start there will be a “Summit to the Statehouse” 5K kicking off at the southeast corner of the Grand Wayne Center at 6:30 am. We will be on-site along with some other media and vendors before the doors to the convention hall open at 9:30 on Saturday.
Food and Drink
There are lots of options here – but for the most part convention-goers will not want for anything – there will be food from assorted local restaurants at Parkview Field. Restaurants participating in the event include:
- Main Street Bistro & Martini Lounge
- The Oyster Bar
- Club Soda
- Chop’s Steaks & Seafood
- Eddie Merlot’s
- JK O’Donnell’s Irish Ale House
Most of these venues will be open for lunch or dinner after the convention. The links above will take you to their websites so you can find them easily.
A Fort Wayne tradition you won’t be able to partake in will be breakfast at Cindy’s Diner. Those following news of the convention may be familiar with developer Bill Bean who has played a significant role in planning the Fort Wayne convention. He has partnered with a local Fort Wayne company to literally remake the Fort Wayne skyline. Unfortunately, part of that process requires relocating Cindy’s to a new home around the corner from its current location and that relocation started just before you all arrived. Fortunately convention planners have you taken care of with breakfast available for the delegates.
Those who are looking for coffee options will not be disappointed. While those addicted to Starbucks will be relieved to know that the downtown hotels both serve their favorite brand of coffee. The Courtyard actually has a mini-Starbucks next to their lobby. Those looking for a more unique local option may want to try Fortezza Coffee, a recent addition to the downtown scene. Fortezza is located a just few blocks down the street from the Hilton’s lobby. The Dash Inn is another close option. They’re across the street from Fortezza and offer a full breakfast menu.
The real business of the convention starts Saturday morning at 10 a.m. We’ll hear from Governor Mike Pence and there will be votes. The most highly anticipated votes include a vote the party’s platform. You can find the platform draft on the state party’s website. The other major vote is on the Republican nomination for Indiana State Treasurer, which has become a strongly contested, three-way race.
What is clear is that nothing is clear. After several months of campaigning on the Lincoln Day Dinner circuit around that state no candidate has captured a clear majority of support from the delegates. Depending on who you talk to (and which candidate they personally support), any of the three could win on the first ballot. What’s most likely is that more than one ballot will be needed and we may see one of the more active state conventions since 2002 when Congressman Todd Rokita survived a tough campaign to win the Republican nomination for Indiana Secretary of State. That race included campaigns by current State Senator Mike Delph and State Treasurer Richard Mourdock.
This convention has the potential to be a memorable occasion for the party and will certainly have a tremendous impact on our ticket.
There is a Kenny Loggins concert scheduled for 8pm on Saturday evening that all delegates can attend. There are many downtown attractions you can visit, including the Botanical Conservatory, the local History Center, or our historic Cathedral. For those who want to show their patriotism and support the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team, the local chapter in formation of the American Outlaws will be gathering at Reilly’s across the street from The Grand Wayne Center to watch the match at 6 pm. A strong recommendation for those staying at the Hotel Fort Wayne is to check out the Red River Steakhouse which is attached to the hotel. Even if you aren’t in the mood for a full meal, their Prime Rib Nachos are amazing.