The Indiana Convention Center located in the heart downtown Indianapolis. First built in 1972 between Maryland St and Capital Ave, the structure originally covered only two blocks. This was a modest, albeit appropriate, size for the center at that time. During the early years the center held events such as the General Conference of the United Methodist Church, as well the boxing matches of the 1987 Pan American Games. Though in recent years, and among the many other expansions of Indy’s city center, the Convention Center decided it was time to build up and out. During the early 2000’s, expansion of the Convention Center stretched all across the city, even taking over the site of the now demolished, yet once iconic, RCA Dome. Along with the construction of very large, state of the art conference rooms came ballrooms, exhibition spaces, and “flexible spaces” allowing for myriad types of events. So you may be thinking to yourself, it must be quite a task to make your way from one conference room to another throughout an entire worldwide corporate convention. Well, think again! Along with the construction of these numerous buildings spanning throughout the city came the aptly named “Skywalks” connecting each and every exhibit hall there is, including Lucas Oil Stadium, Circle Centre Mall, the Indiana State House, and the newly built JW Marriot Hotel. In fact, Indy has been unofficially named the city with the most covered walkways in the country! This gives visitors and Hoosiers alike, a chance to spend time downtown even during the harshest Midwest winters.
All that said, the Indiana Convention Center is ideal for large corporate events. Though what’s really been keeping convention culture alive in this city is the comic, gaming, and sci-fi events.
Indy is fortunate enough to host the largest tabletop-game convention in the country! GenCon is a convention focused on traditional board, card, and pen and paper games that include role-playing, collectible, live-action, strategy, and miniature war games. GenCon was actually founded by one of the creators of the immensely popular game Dungeons and Dragons. The first GenCon was held in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin in August of 1967 at the home of the founders, with a total of 12 in attendance. Now, it’s a different story. GenCon 2014, held in Indianapolis, boasted over 50,000 attendees from all over the world! This makes it one of the biggest conventions in Indy to date, and lucky for us, Indy is confirmed to play host to GenCon for the indefinite future. If you can’t make it into the convention, be sure to take a walk around downtown Indy during this week of August to see some of the very impressive, fun, and elaborate fan costumes that grace our city streets. This particular weekend offers some of the best people watching you could find anywhere in the country!
Along with GenCon, other relatable Indy conventions include StarBase Indy. This Star Trek and sci-fi convention is held over Thanksgiving weekend and features famous actors from the show, as well as other cult sci-fi shows such as Battlestar Galactica and Firefly. Indiana’s own version of Comic Con, appropriately named Indiana Comic Con, is held every year in March and features stars from popular movies and T.V. shows such as Game of Thrones, The Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games, and classic Nickelodeon cartoons like Doug and Hey Arnold! In 2014, Indy also welcomed a new similar convention, PopCon. PopCon is an amalgamation of everything, as the creators would say, “geek related”. Featuring everything from anime, to art, to gaming and fantasy, PopCon is sure to be yet another fantastically fun convention in downtown Indy. If that wasn’t enough, another new convention, Awesome Con, took place in Indy over the weekend. Featuring actors from shows like The Walking Dead and many other popular sci-fi based television shows and movies, Awesome Con is a comic based convention at heart, but spans much further. If you had happened to be in attendance this past weekend, you could have even shook hands with the original Batman, Adam West!
Year after year, these comic/sci-fi/gaming conventions continue to dominate the convention landscape in Indy, and bring in millions of dollars annually to our local economy. Not only that, but there just a damn good time!