Though contracted to stay in Indianapolis through 2020, Gen Con has officially begun discussions about moving the show after that time in the wake of Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s signing of SB101, which allows discrimination against gay people on religious grounds. This information was revealed in a new statement released by Gen Con CEO Adrian Swartout Thursday afternoon. "Planning and bidding for our convention is a long-term process that begins five years prior to contract-term commencement," said Swartout. "Discussions, whether to remain in Indy or move elsewhere, have begun."
Earlier this week, after both houses of the Indiana state legislature passed SB101, Gen Con released a statement urging Governor Mike Pence to veto the bill, and threatening to move the show if the bill came into law.
Swartout stressed the diverse nature of the show’s attendees, saying, "Gen Con proudly welcomes a diverse attendee base, made up of different ethnicities, cultures, beliefs, sexual orientations, gender identities, abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds. We are happy to provide an environment that welcomes all, and the wide-ranging diversity of our attendees has become a key element to the success and growth of our convention." In addition to beginning discussions about what to do at the end of its contract with Indianapolis, Gen Con took two additional steps related to the passage of the new law.
First, Gen Con organizers released a statement acknowledging and supporting that some of its attendees may no longer want to travel to Indiana. "Prospective attendees, if you don’t feel comfortable attending, based upon your principles, we invite you to make the decision that feels right for you, your business, or group. We support your decision, regardless of the outcome." Second, Gen Con asked for feedback from its attendees about local hospitality during this year’s show. Thursday’s statement concluded with a positive call to action: "Let’s continue to show off how open-hearted, fun, and inclusive our event and the Indy community can be.”
GAMA (The Game Manufacturers Association) wholly supports Gen Con’s courageous position concerning Indiana bill SB101. GAMA’s Executive Director John Ward wrote, "The gaming industry has always been open to anyone with a love of games. Each year our audience grows more and more diverse. Gen Con’s choosing to take a stand for fair treatment for all of their attendees is simply the right and proper thing to do."
Attendance at the show topped 56,000 last year, with an economic impact of over $50 million to Indianapolis.
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