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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — As Gen Con kicks off in Indianapolis, tens of thousands of fans are flocking to the Circle City.

Gen Con is one of the largest events the city has held since the beginning of the pandemic. This year, the convention is expected to bring 30 to 40 thousand people to the city, many of whom are out-of-state visitors.

“I am from southeast Iowa.” said Josh Elinghaus at Gen Con.

“Grand Rapids, Michigan.” said Alex Green.

“Amery, Wisconsin,” said Cameron Fina.

This means that between convention events, they will be residing in hotels across downtown Indianapolis.

“We are actually very close to capacity. We are going to be sold out. We expect pretty much the whole downtown to be close to sold out this weekend. And any time that happens, it is fantastic,” said Phil Ray, General Manager at the J.W. Marriott.

The convention, which normally has around 70 thousand attendees, is downsized this year. However, it is still showing a significant impact in the pocket book of Indianapolis.

“They will generate a very healthy $37 million in economic impact which is really, really, really important for our frontline hospitality men and women who depend on tourism for a paycheck,” said Chris Gahl with Visit Indy.

Experts in the hospitality industry say that when Indianapolis successfully pulled off the March Madness tournament, it gave other organizations like Gen Con confidence that the city can hold large events safely amidst the current public health situation.

“The proof of concept that Indianapolis can host events during the pandemic started last year when more than 7 million dollars in health and safety upgrades were put inside the Indiana Convention Center,” said Gahl.

Now, after the cancellation of last year’s event, Gen Con fans can finally continue traditions.

“I have been coming to Gen Con since probably 2011 with a big crew. We come every year and we start planning in January because you have to in order to get a room on the block,” said Ellinghaus. “We love it. It is one of the highlights of the year.”

“It does feel smaller, but it still definitely a fun event that I would be very sad to miss,” said Fina.

Additionally, the hospitality industry is able to get back on their feet — they’re bringing back staff full time and keeping them busy.

“Especially the last two or three months, it has really started to transition and be busy all week long versus just weekends,” said Ray.

Gen Con continues throughout the weekend with the final events wrapping up on Sunday.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The largest gaming convention in the country is back in the Circle City attracting thousands of people.

Visit Indy says they’re anticipating close to 70,000 people for the 16th annual event.

Senior Vice President Chris Gahl said Gen Con brings in about $70 million every year. It helps boosts the entire hospitality workforce.

“81,600 men and women. They’re busy at work this week for Gen Con then they’ll go back to their townships with their paychecks and help support their families,” said Gahl.

Security has been a top priority at the gaming convention. You can find IMPD in patrol cars and on foot directing traffic and making sure everyone stays safe.

Gahl mentioned particularly on Georgia Street. “It’s a three block street between Bankers Life Fieldhouse and the front door of the Indiana Convention Center, so we’ve closed the West block of Georgia Street again for Gen Con.”

Many locals and visitors from across the country have said Gen Con has been busier than ever with nonstop crowds filling every block around the convention center.

Andy Park, a gamer from Minnesota said, “I think it’s pretty decent considering how much money that this generates for all the businesses, the bars and food trucks around here.”

Some businesses are giving back to local charities by giving their tips away, making it a win-win for everyone in town.

“Gen Con picks a gaming charity and then they also pick a gaming charity so that’s the Special Olympics,” said Erin O’Rourke, events manager at Sunking Brewery. “Sun King really likes giving back to the community and this is a nice way for us to support Gen Con and also being able to do that still.

Gen Con ends Sunday.