INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A major gamers' convention that threatened to leave Indiana earlier this year over a divisive religious objections law is expanding in Indianapolis.
Gen Con has reached an agreement to expand its events space into Lucas Oil Stadium for its 49th convention next summer, the event announced Thursday. It already draws more than 50,000 game enthusiasts to the Indiana Convention Center each year.
"It is evident that we have to accelerate our growth plans to meet attendee, exhibitor, and event organizer demand. Gen Con CEO Adrian Swartout said in a news release. "Expansion into Lucas Oil Stadium allows Gen Con to keep offering more gaming, exhibition, and entertainment options each year."
The stadium will host several large events including the True Dungeon events. True Dungeon is described as a large-scale, life-size game experience in an immersive environment where participants can battle monsters and solve puzzles. The 2016 version will offer an expedition through lava caverns and a mission across an underground city.
A corridor connects the convention center to Lucas Oil Stadium directly to its south. The 2016 convention will take place Aug. 4-7.
After Gov. Mike Pence signed Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act in March, it provoked a national uproar from critics who believed it would sanction discrimination against gay, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. Swartout at the time wrote Pence in protest, saying, "Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state's economy, and will factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years." The outcry led the General Assembly to make changes forbidding such discrimination.
In July, Swartout said that Gen Con was shopping the show" to other cities and could relocate when its Indianapolis contract expires in 2020 if lawmakers don't expand civil rights protections for gays and lesbians.
The news release made no mention of the issue, and a phone call to Gen Con on Friday was not immediately returned. Expanding civil rights protections to Indiana's LGBT communities is expected to be one of the key issues before the General Assembly when it meets next year.