One of the largest conventions held in Indianapolis begins today. Gen Con, which brought more than 61,000 visitors downtown in 2015 is expecting record numbers, and local businesses are already feeling the benefit.
The JW Marriott is sold out for the four-day event. and Marketing Manager Michelle Klein says, in terms of revenue, Gen Con is on par with some of the biggest sporting events hosted in the city.
"Compared to the Indianapolis 500 and NCAA tournaments, we definitely see this weekend as one of the largest economic impacts for Marriott hotels in downtown Indy," said Klein. "Between the JW, Courtyard Marriott, SpringHill Suites and Fairfield Inn, we are projected to make a combined $1.3 million dollars in rooms alone."
One local brewery is also cashing in. Sun King is in its fifth year of partnering with Gen Con to provide the official beer for the event. This year’s is Twenty Sided Rye.
"One of the things we love the most about these four days is they love to eat. And they love to drink. And they love craft beer, " said Sun King Promotions Director Beth Belange. "They are very loyal to our brand. They come in and are excited to try the official beer of Gen Con every year so it has a huge impact on us."
The local economy isn’t the only one profiting from the city’s largest convention. Indy Parks is using Gen Con as a tool to drive visitors to local parks. Specifically targeting Pokemon Go fans.
"There are Pokemon characters in many of our 210 parks," said Indy Parks Director Linda Broadfoot whose staff has been encouraging folks via social media to play the popular mobile app game at their parks. "We would love for folks to come out and walk on our trails.There’s all sorts of Pokemon stuff going on and you can do it all in a safe public space while enjoying your time in Indianapolis."
Gen Con begins today and will last through Sunday. Visit Indy expects the event to gross over $71 million for the local economy.