National Rifle Association Annual Event Shatters Previous Attendance Records in Houston
In the midst of a national debate over gun control laws, the National Rifle Association’s 142nd NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits, held May 3-5 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, shattered previous attendance records.
Under the motto this year of “Stand and Fight”, 86,228 attendees flocked to the event, compared with the NRA’s previous record of 73,740 set in 2012 in St. Louis.
“The NRA told us they had never felt so welcome in a city,” said Luther Villagomez, COO of conventions for Houston First Corporation, which manages the GRB for the City of Houston.
The NRA turnout also was a record for a three-day event at the George R. Brown, which hosted more than 550 exhibitors covering 400,000 square feet of exhibit hall space.
The show was ranked No. 131 on the 2012 TSNN Top 250 Trade Show list.
Besides the exhibits and educational sessions, the event featured the “Stand and Fight Rally” with radio personality Glenn Beck as the keynote, as well as a concert, NRA Country Jam III, the 7th Annual NRA Women's Leadership Forum Luncheon, National Prayer Breakfast and the Annual Meeting of the Members was held May 4.
NRA show manager Jeff Poole praised the ease it was to have the show at the George R. Brown.
“The GRB has been one of the easiest buildings to do business with,” Poole said. “The staff listens to one’s needs and executes them flawlessly.”
The NRA show was the second successful event in recent months at the center. The Liquefied Natural Gas convention (LNG17) was held in mid-April.
“Due to their size and scope, LNG and NRA were vitally important to us,” said Dawn Ullrich, president and CEO of Houston First.
She added, “When big shows go off without a hitch – and these two did – the good word gets out there in the meeting planner community. We are fully confident in our ability to accommodate big shows and these two proved it.”
She added the George R. Brown is planning to hold even more concurrent shows in the future, with a new headquarter hotel in the works.
Houston First is working with RIDA Development Corporation on a 1,000-room Marriott Marquis that will break ground next year and is scheduled to be completed 2016.
“It’s possible it could be open in time for the 2016 Final Four and certainly in time for the 2017 Super Bowl, should the NFL owners approve Houston as the host city later this month,” Ullrich said.