INDIANAPOLIS — Gen Con is considering moving out of Indianapolis if lawmakers pass SB 1, a near-total abortion ban. This could directly impact Indianapolis tourism as Gen Con brings about 70,000 people to Indy each year.
Gen Con President Dan Hoppe said Wednesday he was "deeply troubled by the action currently underway in the Indiana General Assembly."
“This morning we released a statement to our community affirming our stance that reproductive rights are women’s rights and that we support a woman’s right to choose. Passage of Senate Bill 1 will have an impact on our stakeholders and attendees," Hoppe said.
On Twitter, Gen Con wrote that they "believe in the right to autonomy over our bodies and the right to choose" and the actions of the General Assembly "have a direct impact on our team and our community, and we are committed to fighting for safety, tolerance, and justice in all the places we operate."
This is not the first time that Gen Con has threatened to take its business elsewhere. The convention considered leaving after the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) became law in 2015. The convention eventually agreed to stay, but many businesses didn't. Visit Indy estimated that the RFRA may have cost $60 million in lost convention revenue. Now with a near-total ban on abortion winding its way through the legislature, Gen Con is once again eyeing other options, and it's not the only one.
"In addition to Gencon, there are a handful of other conventions that we know are closely watching what's happening at the Indiana Statehouse," Visit Indy Senior Vice President Chris Gahl said.
Hoppe said issues like this “will make it more difficult for us to remain committed to Indiana as our long-term annual home.”
According to Gahl, the tourism workforce is still recovering from the COVID-19 shutdowns and “need[s] groups like Gen Con continuing to meet here in Indianapolis.”
One vendor has already pulled out of this year’s convention. Lone Shark Games, based in Washington state, announced they were "heartbroken" and "furious" that the Senate passed SB1 to the house.
"Lone Shark Games and its staff are not comfortable supporting the state of Indiana with our presence," Lone Shark Games posted on Twitter.
Lone Shark also wrote that Gen Con was supportive of the move, even helping to cancel hotel bookings.
But Gen Con can't pull out so swiftly. It is under contract with the Circle City to host the convention here through 2026. Visit Indy, a non-profit dedicated to the city's tourism industry, is working to keep the convention, and others, happy in Indianapolis.
"All of our large annual conventions are constantly being peppered with other cities asking them to come over to their city. So we viciously protect groups like GenCon and work year round to help protect them and grow them," Gahl said.
This year's event runs from Thursday until Sunday at the Indiana Convention Center.