Visit Indy works to keep events in town after religious freedom backlash

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 31, 2015) -  As Governor Mike Pence promises clarification to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by the end of the week, some believe the damage might already have been done in Indianapolis.

Visit Indy Vice President Chris Gahl says more than 10 organizations have called threatening to cancel and move their events elsewhere.  Monday, labor union AFSCME announced it would pull its women’s conference out of downtown Indianapolis. It was scheduled for October 9th through October 11th. Visit Indy said the conference was to be held at the JW Marriott downtown, with 800 expected attendees and an estimated $500,000 in economic impact.

Gahl says their mission now is to let the world know Indianapolis doesn't discriminate.

“We’re rallying the community. We know that hospitality is in our DNA and you can’t take that away from us," said Gahl.

In an interview with Gregg Doyel with our news gathering partners at the Indy Star, NCAA President, Mark Emmert said if they have to move events they will.

"Indianapolis has been great for us, and we hope it continues to be, but we have to do what we have to do," Emmert said.

Visit Indy says they recognize the NCAA doesn't always have to book events in Indy.

"Certainly, we don’t take any of the NCAA events for granted. Just because their headquarters are here doesn’t mean we will always get them, so we work with a sense of urgency every time they have an event to make sure it’s first class," Gahl said.

Tuesday morning, Indiana Governor Pike Pence announced he's working toward clarifying legislation for the Religious Freedom Restoration Law.

Emmert told Doyel, the NCAA will be paying close attention.

"We have to look and see what the legislature does or doesn't do in the next few days. It's premature to talk about what we would do in that regard, but it's important to know we're very serious about this," he said.

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