Gen Con continues to grow, expanding out of the Indiana Convention Center into the Lucas Oil Stadium, using the entire 92,000 square foot football field area for exhibits and game play space. Although unique attendees were down slightly last year when the convention began use of the football stadium, the number of daily attendees increased with more attendees present on multiple days. The 50th anniversary of the convention will see it expanded to the entire field level and two exhibit halls in the stadium. Located on the field will be an “homage construction” approximate-scale replica of the Lake Geneva Horticultural Hall where the first Gen Con took place.

The convention space will use more than 750,000 square feet of the ICC, Lucas Oil Stadium, and the connector space. “It’s the most space ever booked for an Indianapolis connection,” writes the Indianapolis Business Journal. The financial impact of the convention on the city for last year’s convention was between $71 and $72 million dollars, according to Visit Indy, the city’s tourism board. With the increased space and the 50th anniversary celebration, the number of attendees and economical impact on the city is expected to grow.

Gen Con 2017 will be held in August, from the 17th to the 20th.

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Gen ConChris Gral, the vice president of marketing for Visit Indy, announced that Gen Con will remain in Indianapolis through 2021 “and beyond”. Gen Con, the world’s largest analog gaming convention, had been looking at other cities to host the event after the current contract expires in 2020. “As Gen Con has grown, Indianapolis has grown,” Gral said. “We would have been devastated if another city had gained their business, so there’s a sense of honor, a sense of pride and a sense of relief that Gen Con is committing to Indianapolis.”

Gen Con’s estimated impact on the city is approximately $71 million. The Future Farmers of America convention, also with approximately the same attendance (estimated 60,000 to Gen Con 2016’s 60,819), has about half the impact on the city, according to former Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard.

Gen Con 2017, the 50th anniversary of the convention, will be held on August 17-20, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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Gen Con logoFor the past six years, Gen Con Indy has continued to grow. This year’s numbers are in, showing a 9% increase in the number of convention attendees from Gen Con Indy 2014 with 61,423 attendees (unique) and a turnstile attendance of 197,695. Leonard Hoops — the head of Visit Indy, the city of Indianapolis’ tourism board — said that the gaming convention “drives more than $67 million in annual economic activity” to the city, with past conventions bringing in “more than $50 million” in 2014 and $47 million in 2013.

Not only is Gen Con Indy the world’s largest tabletop gaming convention, the growth of Gen Con has made the 2015 convention one of the largest-attended conventions in Indianapolis. However, the Future Farmers of America‘s return to the city in 2016 may topple that: The FFA’s 2014 convention in Louisville, KY, had 64,409 attendees, a 2.2% increase over the previous year. We’ll be keeping an eye on FFA 2015 when it’s held this coming October to compare numbers. (Note: although the NRA 2014 Annual Meeting reportedly brought in 75,269 attendees, repeated inquires to that organization about if those were based on unique or turnstile attendance have gone unanswered.)

Assuming Gen Con Indy’s growth continues, it is on track to overtake the PAX (Penny-Arcade Expo) as the largest gaming convention in 2017. (PAX’s last public attendance records were in 2011 with 69,500 at PAX East.) Housing may start to be a problem for Gen Con in future years as the city only has 20,335 sleeping (hotel) rooms available.


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Gen Con logoGen Con LLC, the parent company of the Gen Con gaming convention, published a public letter to Indiana Governor Mike Pence stating their opposition to SB 101. A similar Indiana House bill, passed by 63 of the state’s Republican senators (five Republicans and 26 Democrats voting against), would give legal protection to business owners to refuse service to same-sex couples on religious grounds. The House bill is expected to concur with the already-approved Senate bill later this week before going to Governor Pence, who says he will sign it.

In the letter to the governor, Adrian Swartout, the CEO and owner of Gen Con LLC, said that signing SB 101 into law will “factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years.” Last year, Gen Con extended their contract with Visit Indy through 2020.

The gaming convention is the largest convention held in Indianapolis, with more than 56,500 attendees, bringing $47 million to the local economy in 2013, “more than $50 million” in 2014. Citing the diversity of the show’s attendees, Swartout asks the governor to reconsider his support of SB101 as the bill “could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees [which will] have a direct negative impact on the state’s economy”.

UPDATE: has published a statement from Gov. Pence’s office. A spokesperson said, “The Governor has been clear on where he stands on this issue and we don’t have anything to add at this time.”

Gen Con LLC released attendance numbers for Gen Con 2014, revealing that this year’s gaming convention is not only the largest of any convention held in Indianapolis, but it has also grown to be the largest (non-electronic) gaming event in the world.

In 2014, Gen Con’s turnstile attendance grew to 184,699 with 56,614 unique attendees. Internationale Speiltage SPIEL (often referred to as “The Essen Game Fair” or “Essen”) had 156,000 turnstile attendance in 2013, which was the trade show’s highest-attended year. Gen Con surpassed this mark that year with a turnstile attendance of 159,364.

Gen Con 2014’s unique attendance numbers are slightly higher than the Future Farmers of America’s last convention in Indianapolis. With FFA’s 2012 convention’s 56,176 attendees, Gen Con had just over 400 more unique attendees. FFA’s 2013 convention, held in Louisville, KY, had 62,998 unique attendees. In 2012, the Future Farmers of America’s last appearance in Indianapolis, they added $38 million into the local economy, compared to Gen Con 2013’s $47 million. The next largest convention in terms of economic impact to the city in 2013 was the FDIC (Fire Department Instructors Conference), with $35 million.

While the actual economic impact of Gen Con 2014 will not be known until later this year, the increase of 14% in growth may reach past the $50 million mark.


This article was edited to clarify that Gen Con has grown to be the largest non-electronic gaming convention. 

panel_title-c0791275b63779eaf508f5e26415a52dEven with expanding the exhibition space by 14%, Gen Con Indy 2014 has sold out of Exhibit Hall space even faster than the prior year. The 2013 Exhibit Hall sold out of space in mid-February, the earliest the convention had done so. The current waiting list for the 2014 Exhibit Hall is more than 30 companies.

Gen Con Indy 2013 had an approximate 20% increase in convention attendees and a 12% increase in number of exhibitors over 2012. “Gen Con’s back-to-back years of record breaking attendance propelled them into generating $36 million in direct and indirect spending, and $47 million when including ‘induced’ spending,” said Lisa Wallace of Visit Indy, Indianapolis’ convention and tourism agency. Compared to other conventions in Indianapolis, Gen Con Indy has the largest economic impact to the city. While FFA (Future Farmers of America) remains the largest convention in terms of attendees with 55,000 people attending, it will be in Louisville, KY, until returning to Indianapolis in 2016. FFA 2012 added $38 million to the local economy compared to Gen Con Indy 2013’s $47 million. In 2013, the FDIC (Fire Department Instructors Conference) generated an economic impact of $35 million.

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