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Gen Con attendees packing hotels, private homes for a place to stay

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – At the corner of East McCarty Street and Russell Avenue, you won’t find a five star hotel. In fact, stars don’t apply at all considering it’s a two unit apartment building. But tenant Chad Roberts does provide plenty of Hoosier hospitality.

“We have a vast selection on non-hotel sheets,” he said as he pointed to the blankets in the corner. “They have full access to the bathroom, the kitchen, laundry as well.”

Roberts is using his apartment to host travelers through the website Airbnb. Two people will be there over the weekend to attend Gen Con, the gaming convention at the Indiana Convention Center.

“They will be staying on this couch,” he said as he sat on his sectional. “And there’s plenty of awkward conversations (when we’re) walking through to grab something to eat and running back upstairs.”

Finding a hotel room for the Indy 500 can be nearly impossible, but the next closest event to match its difficulty could be Gen Con. Event organizers expect 60,000 people to attend for the entire weekend.

Roberts’ place was booked months in advance just like the hotels near the convention center. Many hotels 24-Hour News 8 visited had no vacancy due to Gen Con.

“We had to book the minute the (Gen Con) hotel portal opened,” said attendee Michael Vasko from Archbold, Ohio.

“I just talked to some guys in line and I asked them how much they paid for their hotel and I think it was about $400 dollars per night,” attendee Alycia Fridkin said with disgust.

The last minute prices on Airbnb were significantly cheaper. Rooms range from $30 to a couple hundred depending on how classy of an establishment people are seeking.

Roberts’ living room runs $50 per night and is only a few blocks from the convention center. He might lack hotel management experience but he tries his best to provide his guests a comfortable and welcoming stay.

“We also like to be ambassadors for Indianapolis,” he said. “It’s good to have people come here and have a good experience and want to come back.”