NFL vs. RPGs
Many people (and almost everyone in Indiana) are aware that the Indianapolis Colts have been pressing for a new stadium for the team. Of course, public funding is going to be used for the stadium. Like all such stadiums, they're sold largely on the economic benefits a NFL team brings to the city.
This past Saturday, a preseason match between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears was held in downtown Indianapolis, at the RCA Dome. This game occurred at the same time as the four day Gen Con convention was occurring in the attached Indiana Convention Center, the second year in a row that's happened. This strikes me as a monumentally bad idea. Consider the hassles for attendees of the football game.
Gen Con (attendance around 75,000 for the weekend) is not like conventions one might attend for work, that finish up by 4:30 each day. Gen Con runs 24 hours a day. While only a few insane teenagers take that literally, many people will stay for events in the evening. Even if one leaves after the dealer's room closes, that's at 6:00 PM. When a football game has a 7:00 PM kickoff, imagine what havoc that wreaks with downtown parking!
Gen Con staff, exhibitors, and attendees take over every close hotel space, with Saturday night the night they're most likely to have a hotel room. Colts fans from South Bend or Evansville, or from nearby states, probably don't want to drive home after the game. With nowhere to stay downtown, they're less likely to attend. If they do attend, they'll need to find a room somewhere on the way home. That doesn't provide much of an economic boost to Indianapolis, does it?
What about going out for a meal downtown before the game, or drinks after? Some of those 75,000 people are also going to be going out. There's less of a conflict here, as many younger attendees (teenagers and college students) are not looking to spend $15 a person on a meal, especially after paying $70 to attend the convention. And others aren't going to take time off from the convention events to go out. But there are plenty of Gen Con attendees who do, particularly those exhibitors.
Hassles give football game attendees a bad impression. It's harder to go out on the town, and impossible to spend the night. That doesn't sound like a winning formula for Indianapolis.
It's unlikely the NFL knew or cared about Gen Con when it set up its 2005 schedule. The convention doesn't use the RCA Dome, so the NFL's computers saw that date as open. But the Indianapolis Colts, if they want to be seen as maximizing the economic benefits the Colts bring to Indianapolis, should tell the NFL that that August 12, 2006 is not a good day for a home Colts game.
Update: It's worse than I first realized. There were two other games downtown that day, an Indianapolis Indians AAA baseball game, and an Indiana Fever WNBA game.