Bikers and gamers make ‘Monumental Weekend’ in Indy

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They are two distinct events with two distinct groups of fans. The Moto GP brings in thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts, while Gen Con brings in fans of all types of games.

“It’s family fun,” said Shea Alexander of Indianapolis, who is attending Gen Con dressed up as Luigi from the Mario Brothers. “I mean, what else are you going to do for four days just to hang out with friends?”

Though fans of both events tend to catch the eye of the public with costumes or flashy bikes, they also bring a big economic impact.

Visit Indy estimates that MotoGP will bring in some 60-75,000 spectators to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and thousands more downtown to show off their bikes in coming days.

“That’s a reason why I came early to make sure I catch all the events,” said James Lowmack, who rode his Ducati all the way from the Washington, D.C., area. “It’s almost like a free bike show here.”

Though a lot of bikers will descend on downtown on Friday and Saturday nights, they’ll still be outnumbered by gamers, who are in town to help Gen Con celebrate its 46th birthday.

“How old are you?” “I’m 13, so, from my view that means it started in the Stone Age,” said Andrew Smith, who traveled to Gen Con from Bloomington, Illinois.

Gen Con has grown into the biggest annual event in Indy. There are already more than 40,000 gamers registered to play in more than 12,000 events. That means huge money for Central Indiana. Visit Indy estimates an economic impact of $47 million.

“Which is an incredible number when you think about it,” said Leonard Hoops, President and CEO of Visit Indy. “You’re talking numbers that only the Super Bowl would exceed.”

The economic impact was easy to spot outside the Convention Center on Thursday. Georgia Street hosted the biggest gathering of food trucks the city has seen so far, and business was booming.

“This is huge. We’ve been swamped, like hammered, but it’s good,” said Maeiene Grenat, who works for Pierogi Love.

The only downside to the fun and games is hotel vacancy. The two events have taken up all the available rooms for 40 to 50 miles, not that anyone will mind.

“We were just too busy gaming to actually go down to the hotel,” Smith said. “We’ll go down later. Food and sleep aren’t that important.”