This has been a long time coming.

Greg Gibson, private investor

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — As shovel met dirt Friday morning in downtown Terre Haute, years of planning met reality as leaders broke ground on the Terre Haute Convention Center.

Leaders say the center will bring in several mid-level conventions and events.

“We’re looking at 800-1000 people for a convention itself, and then for an event, we’d move people in and out, about 1800,” said Vigo County Commissioner Brad Anderson.

Investors hope to bring in more events like the Track and Field Championships already planned for the area.

It’s going to be a total game changer for Terre Haute.

Duke Bennett, Terre Haute Mayor

“We hope to use the convention center to bring sporting events to the community. This year we have the Division 1 National Championships, next year Rose-Hulman will host the Division 3 National Championships,” said private investor Greg Gibson.

The convention center itself is already a $32 million investment.

“Not counting what the investment would be for the hotels, the new hotel, which would be added to it, parking garages here, we’re talking $50 million probably of an investment,” said Anderson.

But leaders say the investment is worth it.

“It’s gonna be a total game changer for downtown Terre Haute. We’re really turning into a destination and this is gonna add to that in unbelievable ways,” said Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett.

A food and beverage tax was passed in 2018 to help absorb some of the convention center costs. Anderson says that tax has generated just over $1.8 million since implementation.

The convention center may not be the only money maker coming to Terre Haute, as Gibson says he’s hopeful for a casino after the successful passage of a bill that could bring a casino to Vigo County.

“We’re thrilled about that and I got involved in the project mainly because of what I thought it could do for Terre Haute and Vigo County, that’s why I’m involved. It’s not a businesses I’ve been in before and I think we were very lucky to be successful with the legislature. We think it’s gonna do great things for this whole region,” said Gibson.

We’re talking $50 million probably of an investment.

Brad Anderson, Vigo County Commissioner

The convention center construction project is slated to be complete by Spring 2021.