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Three Years After Convention Center Expansion, GenCon Bursting at Seams Again

Some game fair events could move into Lucas Oil Stadium if necessary

(photo courtesy GenCon Indy)

Nearly 57,000 people jammed downtown Indianapolis for last week's annual GenCon game convention -- a figure that has the city's event planners thinking about how to accommodate more.

GenCon has more than doubled its attendance in five years, setting a new attendance record in each of those years. This year's attendance was up 13% over last year. The event now uses nearly the entire convention center, even though the facility added 300,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space in 2011. Events also spill into the 12 downtown hotels which connect to the center through enclosed walkways.

VisitIndy vice president Chris Gahl says the convention center can still open up enough additional exhibit space to accommodate a few more years of growth. And with another walkway connecting the convention center to Lucas Oil Stadium, GenCon could expand into the stadium, as other large events have.

Gahl says VisitIndy confers monthly with GenCon organizers to assess how many exhibitors and attendees are expected and adjust plans accordingly. Any decision to move into the stadium would be made in those meetings. Gahl notes an expansion into the stadium would open up new sponsorship opportunities for GenCon.

GenCon is Indy's largest convention most years, though it'll be second this year behind the National Rifle Association. The game fair is committed to Indianapolis for at least the next six years, and Gahl says the city hopes to keep it beyond that. He says the four-day event pumped an estimated $50 million into Indy's economy this year.

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