INDIANAPOLIS–One of the state’s largest conventions is threatening to pull out of Indianapolis over the abortion ban bill. The president of Gen Con says the convention supports a woman’s right to choose and that what’s happening at the Statehouse could threaten Gen Con’s relationship with Indiana.
“We released a statement to our community affirming our stance that reproductive rights are human rights and that we support a woman’s right to choose,” said David Hoppe, at a press conference Wednesday morning outside the Indiana Convention Center.
That venue is getting ready to host more than 60,000 people from all over the world starting Thursday. But, Hoppe said Indiana may not be their preferred choice any longer.
LISTEN: Gen Con press conference
“The passage of Senate Bill 1 will have an impact on our stakeholders and attendees and and will make it more difficult for us to remain committed to Indiana as our long-term annual home.”
Chris Gahl, Visit Indy’s senior vice president of Marketing and Communications said in a brief talk with reporters after Hoppe’s statements, that Indy and Gen Con have a contract that runs through 2026, and he believes that contract is secure.
“They’re on our books safe and sound through 2026 and we work with a sense of urgency to retain all of our major events and conventions,” he said, adding that Gen Con has grown over the years to an expected attendance that could possibly reach 70,000. He said he doesn’t believe the statement has affected attendance this year, nor will it.
He added that other cities are always after conventions that make Indianapolis their home. He said Visit Indy will be working with Gen Con to keep them here.
“We haven’t heard from any other convention that Senate Bill 1 is impacting their future. Clearly today Gen Con took a stance and we know they’re closely watching. We know they’re monitoring. They have been for weeks,” he said.
LISTEN: David Hoppe Interview
If you plan to attend you will also be required to wear a mask and be vaccinated against COVID-19, a decision Hoppe said was made in January. Gen Con is an outlier in Indianapolis in that regard, with many conventions successfully and safely having held events in the city. When asked, Hoppe said the decision was based on what the people who attend Gen Con would want, need and support and not on what Comic Con and other conventions have done.
“Some have dropped mask mandates and brought them back and we’ve tried to be consistent the whole way so people would know what to expect and given the way the pandemic is going right now, we think this is the best choice.”
He said table-top gaming is also an indoor event that requires people to be in the same space with others for extended periods.
Hoppe said he believes gaming is a unifier and he’d like to leave politics out of it, despite having called a press conference to make statements on two subjects, one that is inherently political (the abortion ban bill) and one that has become political (the mask and vaccine mandate).